By Michelle Pelletier Marshall
---- — BYFIELD — The 78 young men and women of Triton Regional High School and Middle School choirs walked away from last weekend’s 37th annual Massachusetts Instrumental & Choral Conductors Association Festival, not only with huge smiles on their faces but with Gold Awards for their outstanding efforts. Only 10 of the 90 choral groups that participated in this event earned prestigious Gold Awards.
The annual MICCA Festival, which was held this year on April 5- 7 at Norwood High School, provides a forum for musical groups to perform in front of qualified adjudicators. Triton students participate in this event every two years.
The Triton choral groups sang on Saturday and each achieved the Gold Award — the top award — for performing at a superior level. Groups who participate in the MICCA Festival are evaluated on a standard of excellence rather than in competition with other groups.
“This is a huge achievement — gold medals are hard to come by at MICCA,” said Bob Lathrop, the school’s choir director, who is aided by piano accompanist Holly Libert. “I am extremely proud to direct such a dedicated and talented group of students. Their award at MICCA is a testament to their hard work both individually and cooperatively.”
During the festival, the Triton choirs each sang three songs. The women’s high school choir sang: “Son de Camaguey,” “Hotaru Koi” and “No Time”; and the middle school choir sang: “Doraji,” “South African Suite” and “Stand Together. “
In addition to the awards, the groups received expert evaluation from college-level choral directors and participated in a clinic with the judges who challenged them to improve in specific areas.
Triton students have been practicing for months for this event, both individually and with the groups at school. Lathrop said that many times the singers are assigned a section to learn out of rehearsal time with the goal of bringing it together with the group later.
“The fact is that all choirs that compete at MICCA come prepared with the right notes and rhythms,” said Lathrop. “The choirs that stand out in the judges’ minds are those that perform musically, expressively and with a mature tone, which are the elements that we spend our rehearsal time working on.”
Lathrop attributes the fact that Triton has had a lot of success at the festival in years past due to the fact that the groups sound different from many that compete. The middle school select choir strives for a high school sound, and the women’s choir looks to college-level groups for their inspiration, he said.
“Winning the Gold Award is an achievement that could have only happened with a musical director who can teach and inspire at the highest levels,” said parent Joann Anderson, whose daughter Lilly, an 11th-grader, is in the high school choir. “We are so fortunate to have the talented Bob Lathrop encouraging our students to work together using their individual strengths to create breath-taking music.”
Both the middle and high school choirs have been invited to perform at Boston Symphony Hall in a showcase concert for choirs that achieved the gold medal/superior rating.
Lathrop sees this achievement as leading the students to a positive future, and is appreciative of the fact that the district and the community has a long tradition of supporting the arts at Triton. “As Triton arts teachers, we believe the principles our kids learn as members of an ensemble, or any other artistic endeavor, have a lasting impact on the potential they see for themselves and their future place in society, and having spent as much time around these kids as I have, I believe their future is extremely bright.”