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Dually Noted ready for challenge of competition

In all of Kentucky’s schools, there are only two competing show choirs, and Jessamine County has both of them.

Dually Noted, West Jessamine High School’s show choir, which has been in existence for a decade, is preparing for two contests in March after having finished fourth place last year in one of its two competitions.

And Crescendo, in its inaugural year, is the only competitive middle school choir in the state, and it is practicing for its first competition.

“Show choir is just not that well known in Kentucky,” Brett Burton, West Jessamine High School’s choral director, said in an interview last week.

The performances involve choral singing with choreographed movement, costumes and often a theme. It is similar to visual theater, Burton said, but with more singing and dancing.

The show choir was one of the things that attracted Burton to West Jessamine when he came here in 2015. It was “new territory,” he said.

The group didn’t do well the first year, so he asked one of the judges in Ohio what they had to do to be competitive. The answer: hire an arranger and a choreographer — and not just any choreographer, but a show choir choreographer. So that’s what they did, and this past year, it paid off.

“For the first time, we got to take home what felt like a real trophy,” he said.

The choir were third runners up in South Dearborn, Ind., and fifth runners up in Fairfield, Ohio.

This year, the local choir has a new choreographer, from Aurora, Ind.

Some of Dually Noted’s competitors in Indiana and Ohio have been doing it for 30, 40, 50 years, and they do several contests between January and March, so they can perfect their performance, but West Jessamine’s program doesn’t even start competing until close to the end.

But he and the choir’s student president, Kaity Simpkins, feel good about their show.

“We’re still kind of learning the formula,” Burton said, explaining that the choir is taking the approach that East and West Coast choirs use of having a coherent theme, rather than just six songs they like performing. The typical arrangement is an exciting opener, a laid-back second song, then a ballad, then a song to include “guys versus girls,” which is the kind of piece for which performers would usually do a costume change, and finally a good, strong closer.

This year’s theme is “Running Away,” an idea many kids can relate to as they struggle with the conflict of wanting more independence while also wanting and needing their family’s support.

Simpkins said the show starts with the song “Get Out Alive,” and then goes “Into the Cataclysmic,” which describes a “fun, upbeat dance number.” The ballad is a sweet song called “Run Away with Me,” and then there’s a costume change before the “hard-core final three songs” — Bon Jovi’s “Runaway,” Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” and a sarcastic song called “Ain’t It Fun?” Finally, the show closes with “Back to Our Home.”

It’s an emotional show, but it’s also familiar and fun, she said.

She has enjoyed working on it.

“I’m really excited about this show,” she said.

“They say theater’s like a family, but when you spend every single day with the same 20 kids, we get so close, and it’s so supportive and so fun,” she said.

Burton said this year’s arrangements are at a “higher level” and more difficult.

“We’re hoping to get higher marks than last year, but if we don’t, that’s OK. We’re learning and we’re growing, but we’re slowly finding out it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not as easy as they think,” he said.

Dually Noted’s name comes from the fact that it originally included students from East as well as West Jessamine High, although it’s now mostly West.

Crescendo, the middle school choir, is through Arts Plus, and includes students from both schools as well as homeschoolers, and there is also a Camp Crescendo for fifth and sixth graders. Crescendo’s theme this year is “Rise,” and it includes upbeat songs like “Eye of the Tiger” and “High Hopes.” A student director serves as the choreographer of its show, and Burton oversees the singing part of the performance.

Dually Noted will travel to South Dearborn for the first of its two competitions on March 7, and then to Lebanon, Ohio, on March 14. Crescendo will also compete at the Lebanon contest.

On Feb. 25 and again on May 12, all of the choral programs will give public performances at West Jessamine High School, and on April 11, all the choirs will perform at Arts Walk.

On May 16, Dually Noted and the Chamber Singers will perform in Louisville at Music in the Park.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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