They sang and danced, swaying to the music, clapping as they moved from side to side and raising their hands – that was the 51-voice Harker Heights High School Master Singers and their appreciative audience.
Following months of preparation, the choir delivered a fabulous, spirited concert Thursday at the Stars at Night Ballroom in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio.
The Harker Heights choir was one of just two high school varsity choirs invited to perform at the Texas Music Educators Association convention.
They are the fifth Killeen ISD choir to ever receive the elite invitation.
Thoroughly proud of his students, Director Spencer Wiley credited the choir members’ unwavering dedication. He praised their mastery of six difficult, deeply varied choral pieces.
They began with a Russian hymn called “Bogoroditse Djevo,” translated Mother of God and Virgin.
Next, they performed a playful piece translated “flirtation” by Johannes Brahms with girls and boys on separate sides of the stage where the girls were clearly unimpressed with the boys’ attempts to woo in a back-and-forth dialogue.
Third, the choir sang a more serious love song called “When the Earth Stands Still” – will you take the time to miss me when the earth stands still?
The final three songs in the program spoke to the power of music to transform and speak to the spiritual depths of listeners.
“Although every form of music may not have words, every song tells a story,” senior Elena Bryan said, narrating before the choir sang “The Conversion of Saul,” about persecution and redemption.
“Think about your journey, your story,” she said. “Through music, you can change the world. Through music, you have the power to overcome adversity, to turn darkness to light, and to turn hatred into love.
In the song, “City Called Heaven,” senior Mattais Fragoso delivered a deep, powerful solo about the search for rest and glory – sometimes I’m tossed and I’m driven … sometimes I don’t know which way to turn.”
In the choir’s powerful finale, soloist Cesily McNutt, a junior, and the rest of the choir invoked a gospel energy with “Maybe God Is Tryin’ to Tell You Something.”
With drum, piano, guitar and organ accompaniment, the choir belted out the desperate words speak, Lord, speak to me, I was blind, I was lost, until you spoke to me.
With the audience members on their feet cheering and Wiley on the side presenting his choir, the band took up the music again and the choir and McNutt got even more energetic during a rousing encore before the actual end and a huge roar of approval.
“It was really amazing,” said McNutt during a reception following the concert. “I didn’t want it to end. Just being on stage, I just wanted to keep going.”
“It was insane just seeing the amount of people that came and supported and seemed to love it,” said Fragoso. “We all worked so hard every single day. We made it and we did it.”
“Oh my gosh. Every moment of stress and effort and soul we put into this, this moment it paid off,” said Elly Hanks.
“The months and months of rehearsing didn’t feel real until now. Learning to work with this team, with this family has been amazing.”
“I am so unbelievably proud of these students,” said Wiley. “The work they have put in the past six months has been incredible. The rigor and depth of work and skill we’ve built. They are just the most talented I have ever worked with.”
“I wanted to demonstrate a variety of styles. We did six songs in six styles, and they were so exceptional at it. That is the best compliment. Every style is important.”
Prior to the performance at the convention, the Master Singers sang at the Chapel of the Incarnate Word and at Mission Concepción and Mission San Jose in San Antonio.