Ely choir students land solos in U of W concert

On stage at UWS following their performance of the Schubert Mass No.2 in G are the following Ely Choral students and the Chorfest Directors. Pictured, l-r, are: Vannesa Bravo, Logan Mann, Dr. Richard Robbins, Dr. Jose Rivera, Maggie Isbell, Lily Sauls and Caleb Rouse-Littler.

by Michael Rouse -

A little over a week ago, around 8:30 on Friday morning, in the gym at Ely Memorial High School, there was a pep rally in progress. The pep rally was honoring the Ely Cross Country Teams as they prepared to leave for the state meet. Also honored, was the Ely Memorial Football team, for their ongoing success in the playoffs.
You could easily have spotted Caleb Rouse-Littler in the pep band playing bass guitar, or Vannesa Bravo performing on the gym floor with the dance team. With a little more observation, you probably could have found Maggie Isbell, Lily Sauls, and Logan Mann in the stands cheering on their school teams.
What might not have been so apparent to you, is the monumental performance that these five students had just participated in on Thursday, the day prior to the pep rally.
At 6 a.m. on Thursday, November 3, Vannesa, Maggie, Caleb, Logan, and Lilly, along with their director, Michael Rouse, left Ely High School in route to the University of Wisconsin, Superior campus. There, they joined with 150 other honor choir students from Wisconsin and Minnesota in a day of rehearsals with the guest director, Dr. Jose Rivera, who is a professor of Choral Music at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke as well as the head of the UWS Choral Music Dpartment, Dr. Richard Robbins. The rehearsals started at 9 a.m. and continued until noon, when the students were given a one hour lunch break to enjoy pizza at the college commons. At 1 p.m. it was time to get back to work.
The Ely students as well as the honor choir students from the other 18 schools involved, rehearsed Franz Schubert’s Mass No. 2 in G for another two hours honing in on the fine details of the music. At 3 p.m. the students were allowed another break in order for the orchestra to get set up and in place for the final dress rehearsal.
It was also at this time, that any students who had signed up to audition for the few available solo passages were given their chance to audition for Dr. Rivera. Three Ely Memorial Choir students chose to audition along with students from the other schools. When the dust settled, all three Ely Choral students along with two students from other schools were awarded the five solo opportunities.
A huge congratulations is in order for Vannesa Bravo, Caleb Rouse-Littler and Lily Sauls for their successful auditions and being chosen. as soloists for this performance!
Following the dress rehearsal with the orchestra, the students enjoyed a nice dinner at Bellisio’s and then returned to campus for the 7 p.m. performance. The performance was superb! These students should all be commended for their two months of dedication and hard work to learn this Mass (all in Latin) as well as their willingness to compete with some of the best high school singers in the region for their well deserved solo spots.
The concert ended at 8:30 and they gathered their belongings and exhausted from the long day of rehearsing and yet energized by the exhilarating performance, headed back to Ely. It was after 11 p.m. when the students quietly arrived back in town and headed for their respective homes. Which brings back to Friday morning, when, as tired as they must have been, they pulled their selves out of bed and headed to Ely Memorial High School to cheer on the successes of some of their classmates. What an incredible group of students Ely has!