When Heartland Youth Choir performs music from around the world next week in Chariton, the singers will have a deeper connection to the songs than you might imagine.
The Chamber and Cantemus ensembles of Heartland Youth Choir will perform at Johnson Auditorium on Thursday, March 2, as part of the Vredenburg Performing Arts Series. The songs on the program reflect choir tours the students took last summer.
The Chamber Choir, made up of high school singers from across central Iowa, took a trip to Europe, visiting Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Among the songs they will sing on Thursday is “Ave Verum,” one of Mozart’s most well-known compositions. On tour, the students had a chance to perform that song in Saltzburg Cathedral, where Mozart spent years composing and playing.
They will also sing “Bizakodo” by Hungarian composer Lajos Bardos, who wrote the song during World War II while his family was hiding in a coal cellar during a bitter house-to-house fight between the Germans and the Russians. The Chamber Choir sang the song in Budapest last summer.
“It was particularly moving to sing this song in a cathedral in Budapest, where many in the audience had been touched by that history,” said Barbara Sletto, artistic director for Heartland Youth Choir.
The Cantemus Choir will sing songs about friendship and goodwill that reflect their experiences last year at the International Choral Festival in Missoula, Montana. The invitation-only festival is held once every three years. Heartland Youth Choir was one of only 11 choirs invited in 2016 and the first Iowa choir ever to participate.
Members of Cantemus, an ensemble of middle-school students, met and sang with choirs from around the world during the four-day festival. Choirs of all ages represented Cuba, Hong Kong, Estonia, Costa Rica, Canada, Georgia, Poland, and the United States.
On Thursday, the students will sing “Friendship” by Cole Porter, the healing song “We Will Sing the World Whole Again,” and “Hope for Resolution,” written for Nelson Mandela’s inauguration.
“Performing in the International Choral Festival with singers from all over the world was an amazing cultural opportunity for HYC,” said Sletto. “We connected with hundreds of singers and thousands of audience members through songs sung in many different languages.”
Thursday’s concert in Chariton will begin at 7 p.m. in Johnson Auditorium. Tickets, $15 for adults and $5 for students, can be purchased at the door.