The greatest music the United States has ever created will be center stage as the parish’s best high school musicians and vocalists showcase music indigenous to America and other classics perform next Saturday.
Livingston Parish Talented Musicians’ “Americana” is set for Apr. 8 beginning at 5 p.m. at the Walker Freshman High School Auditorium. Admission is $6.
Billed as “a collaborative project culminating in a community performance,” the concert will feature music from America’s greatest composers and singers.
“The show will include my talented music students from Walker High School, Walker Freshman High, Westside Junior High, North Corbin Junior High and Walker Elementary,” said director Cathy McManus.
“The students will sing, dance, and play a variety of instruments including brass, woodwind, percussion, piano and guitar,” she continued. “Every year I write a grant through the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge which helps to fund the program.”
“It covers the cost of renting sound equipment and a sound engineer, Danny Wilson, Leah Hartman, pianist, Nannette Egros, choreographer, Dr. Robert Nash, bass player, Chris McCullough, percussionist, and a videographer,” McManus said.
Volunteering to help make the show a success are Cindy Sanders, assistant to the director, John Wilkinson, stage manager, and Kimberly Pierson, art, she said. “Parents also volunteer to make it a great experience for the students and the audience.“
“This year's program, ‘Americana,’ will showcase a variety of works, vocal and instrumental, to include jazz, blues, rag, bluegrass, gospel, country, barbershop, rock, popular and classical genres with an emphasis on the influence American music has had throughout the world,” McManus said.
Important composers whose music will be included in the program will include Burt Bacharach, Amy Beach, Irving Berlin, Chuck Berry, George M. Cohan, Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Stephen Foster, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Scott Joplin, Dolly Parton, Cole Porter, John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams.
The program will kick off with the “Star Spangled Banner,” performed by the entire cast, followed by “I Got Rhythm,” composed by Gershwin and sung a cappella by the company.
Next on the program is Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” performed by the ensemble’s talented woodwind quintet. Then, the sounds of the entertaining tune made famous by Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’” will be sung by elementary and junior high girls, featuring Chasidy Miller on guitar.
“Amazing Grace,” a Christian hymn composed by John Newton, will be performed by Julia Hollingsworth and Christian Noto on tuba and Austin Noto and Logan Yarbrough on euphonium.
Up next, is some of America’s barbershop favorites – “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “I Love You Truly,” “Wait Till the Sun Shines” and “Nellie.”
Singing the barbershop segment will be tenors Ethan Armstrong, Justin Austin Bergeron and Blakelyn Prettelt, lead singers Evan Bergeron and Logan Yarbrough, baritones Richard Nixon, Austin Shelton and Dylan Walsworth and on bass, Ethan Archer, Donovan Elsey, Austin Noto and Andrew Woodrich.
Next, will be the instrumental “Blue Skies,” composed by Berlin, then a medley from Bacharach of “Walk on By” and “I Say a Little Prayer For You,” co-composed by Hal David.
Singing the medley will be Shelbi Carroll, Kylie Daigle, Kayla Spearman, Kalie Sunde, Lauren Bienvenu, Natalie Day, Shelby Dorough, Hannah Hernandez, Peyton Perry, Emma Graham, Marian Luzier and Morgan Schroeder.
Vocalists performing will be Anna Ferrand, Jessica Horn, Rebekah Niederhofer, Athena Smith, Kyndall Smith, Makayla Chase, Brianna Chaney, Maria Nickel, Sydni Seighman, Emily Smyth, and Evyn Fitzgerald.
Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” is next in the program, followed by the Etta James classic, “At Last,” composed by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and performed by Miller.
“Give My Regards to Broadway,” a Cohen favorite, is up next, followed by “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and “I Sing Because I’m Happy,” by Rollo Dilwork and Hal Leonard. Then the troupe will perform “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland then a tribute to the girl groups of the 1960s.
The jazz standard “Take the ‘A’ Train,” by Billy Strayhorn will follow, then Cole Porter’s “De Lovely,” backed with Ivan Stavinsky’s instrumental “Pastorale,” then the audience will be treated to the folk classic “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.”
Nearing the end of the program, the company will perform a medley of Foster’s classics, Duke Ellington’s “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” then the early rock ‘n’ roll tune “Surfin’ USA,” with lyrics written by Brian Wilson and music by Chuck Berry and Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Through.”
“Americana” will close, appropriately, with John Philip Souza’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
In addition to the performers mentioned here, there are several dozen more who will be noted in the program.
The program is supported in part by a Decentralized Funding Grant from the Arts Council of Baton Rouge in cooperation with the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural, Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and the Louisiana State Arts Council.
Tommy Comeaux is the Lifestyle editor at The Livingston Parish News. He can be reached via email at TommyComeaux@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, @tommycomeaux.