Singing Liberty trio performs in Nashville

November 15, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

NEW — 1:55 p.m. Nov. 15, 2013

Nov. 7 was just another regular day of rehearsal for Liberty High School choir students Cassi Cox, Sarah Edmonds and Jennifer Wood.

They stood, staggered among their peers, with their faces buried in the music sheets, singing along as teacher Robin Wood dutifully instructed.

Just a week earlier, though, the Liberty trio was in Nashville, Tenn. performing in front of an audience of more than 2,500 people, hand selected to stand among the best singers in the nation.

“It was kind of surreal, performing with so many talented singers,” Edmonds said.

Liberty High School students (from left) Sarah Edmonds, Cassi Cox and Jennifer Wood, with Liberty choir teacher Robin Wood, take in the indoor gardens at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. (contributed photo)

Liberty High School students (from left) Sarah Edmonds, Cassi Cox and Jennifer Wood, with Liberty choir teacher Robin Wood, take in the indoor gardens at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. (contributed photo)

The girls made the trip because they were named to the National Association for Music Education’s honor chorus. They were among 350 of the nation’s top vocalists to receive the honor.

Cox, Edmonds and Wood initially qualified for the opportunity by earning all-state or all-region awards last year. They each earned a spot in the national choir after judges were impressed with their taped audition performances.

“It was a lot of screaming happiness,” Wood, a junior, said of the moment she found out she was selected.

The honor is quite the accomplishment. Only one other Liberty High School student has ever been named to the national choir, the girls said.

The trio performed at the famous Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which houses an extravagant indoor garden, Oct. 30.

When the singers weren’t eating or sleeping, they were put on a rigorous rehearsal schedule. One day, the girls estimated they practiced for nearly 11 hours.

“That was my favorite day because it’s nonstop just my favorite thing, my favorite thing in the whole world,” Edmonds said.

Prominent East Coast conductor Rollo Dilworth led the rehearsals and challenged the vocalists by instructing them to sing some of his original works.

“It was really cool getting to work with him on something that he made because he knew exactly what it was supposed to sound like,” Cox said. “In a new piece of music, it’s a lot of fun to get into the details of the piece.”

The girls said they came into rehearsals not knowing what to expect. The 350 students were, after all, given an immense challenge in cultivating a harmony, despite the fact they had never performed together.

It was a challenge met with great success, though, the girls said, when they looked around and truly realized they were in a room with some of the nation’s best high school singers.

“Just the first time we all sang together, half knowing the pieces, half not, it was absolutely amazing,” Wood said.

When they returned to the Liberty High School choir room, all three said the experience changed them for the better.

“It was actually kind of amazing because you don’t think you’re absorbing that much knowledge, because it’s so fun when you’re doing it, but you come out of it knowing so much more,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds and Cox are seniors this year, and both agreed the honor was the perfect culmination to their four years at Liberty.

All three said they hope to keep music in their life, whether it’s taking a vocal class or joining a chorus in college.

“With choir, you feel a part of something,” Edmonds said, “and that’s something you don’t want to give up.”

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