Bemidji has long been a community with a strong choral tradition. From the Bemidji State University Choir and Bemidji Community Chorale to the Bemidji High School Choirs and elementary choral program, our community has produced many outstanding vocal ensembles. Our community and school district are quite a bit larger than most people realize! Our high school enrollment is around 1,400 and draws students from the 60,000 people living within the 800 square miles our district services. During the past 31 years at Bemidji High School the choral program has grown from 108 students singing to almost 300 at one point. Over the past 15 years we have maintained a consistent vocal enrollment of around 240 students. In 1995 we moved from a six period day to a block schedule which we have maintained ever since. This block schedule has allowed over 30 percent of our music students to be involved in more than one music discipline. In 2000 we moved into a new high school, which has a fabulous music wing; with orchestra, band, and choir classrooms, eight practice rooms, a theory room, black-box theater and an auditorium that seats 1,100 people.
In 2004 Mr. Fettig established several “parallel programs,” to help maintain the high school choral enrollment during a period of declining enrollment at the middle school level. With funding from, Show Choirs Of Bemidji, Inc. (SCOBI), programs like the Bemidji Area Summer Show Choir Camp, The Bemidji Boy Choir, The Festival Treble Chorus, and AAA for Voice were all established to keep middle level students singing. As the middle school returned to full strength under the direction of Ashley Sands, some of the parallel programing was discontinued. However, the Bemidji Boy Choir and the Bemidji Area Summer Show Choir Camp continue to be strong!
BEMIDJI AREA SUMMER SHOW CHOIR CAMP
Varsity Choir – This mixed non-auditioned ensemble is made up of 110 students primarily 9th grade. Most of the students are on a split block schedule with band, orchestra, or a required science class. The curriculum involves extensive study of sight singing with solfege and the
use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Varsity Choir performs at our four major concerts during the year.
Bel Canto Choir – This is our level two SSA choir made up of 75 10-12th grade treble voices. This auditioned ensemble rehearses every day for 90 minutes. The choral curriculum involves more advanced study of sight singing and IPA as well as an introduction to music history and a study of the major choral stylistic periods. Along with performing in our four annual concerts the choir participates in Large Group Contest and has an annual tour to Chanhassen for an exchange concert with Chanhassen High School’s Bel Canto Choir under the direction of Sarah Gilbertson followed by a trip to the dinner theater.
A Cappella Choir – The 72 voice A Cappella Choir is selected by audition from a total choral enrollment of 260 singers and a school enrollment of 1,400 students. The entire choir rehearses daily on a split block of 45 minutes, which allows about one third of the singers to participate in an instrumental ensemble as well. In addition to four major concerts per year, the choir performs annually for the local Rotary and Lions clubs and has toured annually for the past 31 years. Highlights have been performances at The National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., and Carnegie Hall, NYC, NY. In 1990 and again in 1999 the choir won first place at the Six Flags Great American Festival in Chicago. In 1993 the choir was featured on Minnesota Public Radio during a Broadcast of Lunds Presents. In 1995 the choir toured to Washington, D.C. for the “World Liberation Music Celebration.” In 2004 the choir won 1st place and the Sweepstakes award at the Music Fest Orlando. The Bemidji High School A Cappella Choir has performed under Mr. Fettig’s direction on five separate occasions at State ACDA and MMEA conventions. In addition to these performances, the choir was featured in 1997 at the Central Division Music Educators National Conference in Peoria, Illinois. They also performed twice at the American Choral Directors Association North Central Division Convention; first in 2000 in Madison, Wisconsin and then in 2010 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN. The choir has performed two other times on stage at Orchestra Hall, first in 1993 at the Northstar Choral Festival and again in 2007 at the Choral Finale. They have been a featured solo choir at the Luther College Dorian Choral Invitational, St. Olaf College Choral Festival, and the Concordia College Choral Festival.
Bemidji High School Annual Christmas Concert
Extra Curricular Ensembles
Madrigals – This 16 voice mixed ensemble is auditioned from students who are in the A Cappella Choir. They rehearse twice a week for one hour. They primarily perform renaissance and chamber music and have received a superior rating at contest for 31 consecutive years. In 2004 they won 1st place at the Music Fest Orlando and in 2009 the BHS Madrigal Choir served as Artists In Residence for the Aspen Music Festival And School in Aspen, Co.
Vocalmotive – In 1995 Mr. Fettig introduced Show Choir to the Bemidji area and continues to direct and arrange music for Bemidji High Schools award winning show choir Vocalmotive. This group is made up of 50 singers and dancers, a 15 piece back up band and 8 stage crewmembers. The group rehearses three times per week for two hours. For the past 20 years they have been choreographed in late October by April James (a Los Angeles based professional choreographer). The show choir has put on an annual Dinner Show for the past 24 years. The four shows perform at the end of January raise about $25,000. Along with raising money, the dinner show gives individual students a chance to perform soloes and small ensembles on stage. The show choir performs over a dozen times in January through March. Along with their home shows they perform at four competitions each year. Under his direction, Vocalmotive has won numerous Grand Champion awards along with caption awards for best vocals, choreography, and instrumental combo. Mr. Fettig’s groups have also been recognized for their innovative programming and creative themes.
La Voce Ballo – The all-treble show choir has 55 auditioned singers in grades 9-12. This group was added 15 years ago because of the large number of students interested in the show choir program. They are choreographed by Kevin Chase (an alumni of Bemidji High School) who has become a very successful professional choreographer. Another BHS alumni, Emily Paine, directs the ensemble. Along with their home concerts they participate in three competitions per year.