Legacy of Talent

Imani Skipwith
April 19, 2018

Murrah's choir performing for the community this school year. Photo by Kaitlyn Fowler.

During spring break, Murrah High School’s internationally known choir had the opportunity to travel to Italy in order to perform in and explore this foreign country. The trip included touring four cities: Milan, Verona, Venice and Rome.

The choir was granted such an opportunity because of their hard work and dedication. After competing and winning at a local festival -- the Reveline Core Festival -- in Florence, MS, they continued to the state competition, where they received all superior ratings. Soon after, the choir was invited to the Festival of Gold in Los Angeles, California which is for all choirs who have rated superior on a local and state level. At the festival, there is a massive concert where many choirs showcase what they have done throughout the previous year. After the concert is the competitive segment from which the Murrah Girls’ Choir departed with a top score of 98, which is the highest score a choir can receive in this competition and the overall choir received some of the highest scores in the competition. Participating in all of these competitions led the choir to receive the international invitation to Italy.

Raising money to get to Italy, however, was a very challenging process. The trip itself was over $100,000. According to Mr. Gallion, the choir director, the choir did a lot of fundraising in order to raise money so that the students could have this opportunity. A large amount of the money that was raised came from benefit concerts that started in the fall, as well as the winter concert that they hosted. The choir would invite people out to hear them perform, and in the midst of singing, the attendees would give. Other fundraising activities outside of school were selling cookie dough, World’s Finest Chocolate, popcorn, and more Often, the choir was featured in the news. They have done both televised and regular interviews so that the word of what they were doing would circulate and the number of supporters and donors would grow. One of their sponsors gave them almost $20,000.Many other sponsors gave hundreds of dollars to help them reach their goal.

When it comes to actually being able to fundraise the money, a lot of the members say that it was quite challenging. Mr. Gallion states that it required a lot of strategic planning due to the fact that you must be able to build relationships, go out and not be afraid to ask people for support. There is a large amount of professionalism and articulation that goes into such a task; you have to be able to tell people what you’re selling and what you need, because if you cannot get that support, you cannot get the funds.

Murrah's choir performing for the community this school year. Photo by Kaitlyn Fowler.

Trips for competitive purposes are not just about competing; they are adventures from which you can learn. Student choir director, Justin Bell, explains, “I am blessed to say that this trip will enable me to see more aspects of the world and others’ culture, further understanding my own role in the world and building more empathy for others.” As a musician, “exposure is key” and the opportunity to sing in such a great place molds and transforms the music into something greater and impacts the singers and the audience.

The students are clearly inspired by their choir director, ashe said something similar. He frequently tells his students that music is an interdisciplinary subject. Within what they do specifically for choir, it’s found in all types of disciplines and academics. DeVonte

Phillips, the tenor section leader, and Ashley King, the alto section leader, comments that going to Italy would allow their peers to see what goes on in a city other than Jackson and a state other than Mississippi Jackson. They are able to get educated on something completely foreign and different and it will affect them positively, as they will be receiving such extraordinary knowledge on a different culture. Of course, not only the underclassmen and juniors benefit from such an opportunity, the seniors would too. Sophia Bowley, the soprano section leader, illustrates, “It will definitely build me as a person and singer. Like I said, it’s just pretty much exposure. Everything you learn pretty much has to do with exposure. The more you do things, the more you expose yourself to things you are unfamiliar with, the more you grow in terms of being able to understand more people.” She continues on to say that being able to learn such communication skills will help in all aspects of your life and it gives you a more global view.

It is inspiring to see talented young people come together, work hard and show the world what they have to offer. In the interview, Mr. Gallion says that his goal was to expose the choir to as many situations as possible not just competitive atmospheres but world experiences that would help them be overall better citizens. His work and guidance, along with the youth’s determination to discover something new led them to accomplish so much and reach new heights and it will continue on for a long time, being passed down from class to class, from student to student.