Annual Choral Festival welcomes Clarke and elementary school singers

DUBUQUE — Among the many traditions celebrated last week in preparation for and during Homecoming was the Holy Family Choral Festival, a Holy Family Catholic school system for the past 16 years.

The festival, which usually brings together fifth graders from the Holy Family Catholic schools and Loras College Concert Choir students, were joined by Clarke University for the first time in three years.

Apart from the wonderful music performed at the event, the main purpose of the festival was education; for elementary students to learn more about choral music as a part of their education.
“The festival was started 16 years ago to let the elementary students see that choral music is possible throughout their elementary education time and to bring together the Holy Family Catholic school system to celebrate choral music,” saidDr. Bruce Kotowich, director of choral and vocal activities.

This year’s festival maintained the same tradition where Loras College opens the concert with two pieces: “De Profundis” by Russel Robinson and “Long Road” by Pauline Barda. This was followed by a performance from Clarke University and then the 135 fifth-graders from different schools singing as one mass choir.

The festival, as usual, closed with the mass rendition of “Shine Down” which was recorded and released by Sandi Patty in 1991.

In addition to making beautiful music and educating elementary students about choral music, the festival also cements and highlights the partnership between Loras College and the Holy Family Catholic schools.

According to Dr. Kotowich, this is “a wonderful way for Loras College to show that it is interested in the Holy Family system (and that) choral music is very alive and flourishing here at the college, as well as for Holy Family school teachers and parents to see that Loras is a partner in their children’s education”.

Loras College Concert Choir members also get to play as role models for the fifth graders as they influence their view and commitment to music.

“I’ve had fifth graders come up to me and say they want to be in Loras choirs. The accompanist for “Shine Down” was once in the fifth grade group singing at one of the festivals … he got involved in part as a result of seeing college level students perform at the festival,” said Dr. Kotowich.

Moreover, this is an “opportunity for Concert Choir members to share their choral music … it’s a wonderful way for them give back to the community and work with the elementary music teachers.”

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