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FDSH choir to perform at Dorian Festival

Choir will hold a preview concert for FD residents Tuesday at St. Olaf Church

April 5, 2010
By EMILIE NELSON, Messenger staff writer

There are hundreds of high school choral programs throughout Iowa and the surrounding states, but the Fort Dodge Senior High A Capella Choir has been put on the map this year as they represent the school and community at the prestigious Dorian Invitational Choral Festival next week.

The festival, which is held on the campus of Luther College in Decorah, features just four or five high school choirs each year, FDSH choral director Joe Svendsen said.

"It has been a part of Luther College for a long time," said Svendsen. "Out of all the choral programs in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Illinois, we were one of four invited to participate this year."

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The Fort Dodge Senior High A Capella Choir rehearses for the upcoming Dorian Choir Invitational at Luther College. The FDSH ensemble was one of only four choirs from five states to be invited to perform at the festival.

The FDSH A Capella Choir has made appearances at the festival in previous years, but it has been 26 years since they have been invited to attend.

Svendsen said he and FDSH musicians were happy to receive the invitation, and it has been a motivator for the choir to do their best work.

"It's a wonderful thing to be invited to attend this event," he said. "Then your focus changes from being happy to being able to demonstrate that you really earned the invitation. It's been great motivation for the students to give quality performances."

The choir has been working on several selections of music and plans to perform four or five at the festival.

"We like many of the selections," said Svendsen. "It's a great diversity of music from spirituals to East African folk music and even a Japanese tune. There's a lot of flavor."

The Dorian Invitational comes at the peak of a very busy season for the members of the A Capella Choir, according to Svendsen. Most members are preparing selections for solo and ensemble contest which will be held Saturday. Preparation for state large group music contest in May is also underway as well as rehearsals for the school's 83rd annual musical production.

"They're busy kids," he said. "We've got a lot going on."

The choir will also be presenting a free concert for the community at 8 p.m. Tuesday at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, which will feature the selections they are taking to the Dorian Festival. Svendsen said it will a chance for everyone to see what the A Capella Choir accomplishes in a year.

"It's a cool thing to be recognized because so much of what this choir does, the community associates with the musical," he said. "But 85 percent of what they do is not the musical. That's the side that's a little more unknown, the majority of their work is concert music and it's nice that work can also be recognized. The concert will be a way of showing the community what we do the majority of the year and let them hear the polished final product."

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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