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B-UHS choir alumni invited to join students at Saturday’s Winter Concert

BUCKHANNON – This time of year brings the desire to be near loved ones sharing special times together. Why not share some time together this Saturday, Dec. 14, as the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Choir presents their Winter/Alumni Concert?

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Wesley Chapel on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

B-UHS Choral instructor Jeremiah Smallridge said he hopes many parents, family, community members and choir alumni will join in Saturday’s celebration.

According to Smallridge, 70 students are currently enrolled in the choir programs at B-UHS.

“We have three choirs that combine to put on Saturday’s concert,” he said. “Traditionally, as started by Jim Knorr, there is an alumni portion of the Winter Concert. All alumni can come back and we sing the end portion of the concert together.”

Songs performed on Saturday will be mostly Christmas music.

“There are a few songs that are not Christmas themed, but it is mostly Christmas music,” Smallridge said. “We are trying a few new things this year, so there will be a couple of surprises I don’t want to give away. We have students sing, but we also have student accompanists.”

Renee Warner and Jenny Pfister will also perform as accompanists with the choir.

“They have done that for a very long time,” Smallridge said. “We are looking forward to having them.”

“It’s just a nice concert with lots of beautiful music and it’s a great way to ring in the season.”

B-UHS offers students different classes including choir and concert choir, which is an audition group. Smallridge said there is also an afterschool choir called the B-U Soundwaves, which is a competitive group.

“To be a member of the B-U Soundwaves, you also must be in the concert choir,” he said. “We are also starting a group of upper voices and lower voices who will compete as well. We will essentially have a men’s choir and a woman’s choir that will go to competitions.”

Smallridge said participation in choir is fun, but it is also an enhancement of the other classes students have during the school day at B-UHS.

“I think in the performing arts, we try to create an environment that is inclusive for everyone,” Smallridge said. “We have students of varying ability levels. The wonderful thing is they must work together for a common goal. It is something they can be proud of, and I think having pride in their product is very important and having a sense of belonging someplace is important.”

Smallridge said he holds students to high expectations.

“I always tell my students they may or may not be musicians for the rest of their lives,” he said. “But I want to give them the ability to do that if they choose, so that way there are independent as musicians. But we are also teaching them concepts such as aesthetic awareness, and how to find beauty in things and how to enjoy things like that.”

He said beyond the artistic side, they are teaching students teamwork, communication skills and how to analyze music, figuring out the challenges and working through them.

“These skills can help the student become successful in any career,” Smallridge said.

The competition for the choirs at B-UHS is in February, and Smallridge said the students are gearing up for that season.

“We have a competition every weekend in February, and this year, we are sticking close to Central West Virginia,” he said. “We are always open to performing in the community, and if folks would like that, they should contact me at B-UHS by calling 304-472-3720.”

Smallridge grew up in Upshur County and this is his 13th year teaching locally. He has been at B-UHS for six years.

“I am from Buckhannon and I grew up singing in the choir. I have degrees from West Virginia Wesleyan College, Glenville State College and the Shenandoah Conservatory,” he said. “I am passionate about making sure students in this area have access to quality arts education.”

The B-U Soundwaves have recorded a CD, which will be for sale during Saturday’s concert for $20. It includes a patriotic section, the school’s Alma Mater, Christmas songs and sacred favorites.

Saturday’s Winter/Alumni Choir Concert has a $2 admission fee; however, Smallridge said Upshur County senior citizens who have the sport passes, along with Upshur County faculty, staff and students, will be admitted for free.

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