Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Choral Festival Honor Choir at Peru State College

On Tuesday evening of 26 February, Peru State College hosted the 11th Annual Choral Festival Honor Choir, an event that joins the college community with talented students from area high schools.

The Choral Festival Honor Choir was established in 1998 to allow talented singers to join with Peru State College singers in the Choral Festival Honor choir. Singers are selected on the basis of high school director recommendations. Eleven high schools participated in the 2008 Choral Festival Honor Choir, a total of 202 singers.

The students spend an engaging day of instruction and enjoyment with members of the Peru State College Concert Choir and the Misty Blues. The day's festivities conclude in song when over two hundred singers join with Peru State Students to create the Honors Choir.

You will find a brief slide show that includes images of both the Misty Blues show and the Honors Choir's performance. I tried to get as many group shots as possible, hoping in the process to include pictures of all the performers. If any images appeal to you, this site allows you to download--and the images are large enough to make very good prints.

To infuse the audience with energy, the Misty Blues performed. The video below attempts to capture the excitement and the joy of the group's concluding number, "Jelly's Jam."

The Honor Choir's presentation concluded with a fun song that you will certainly enjoy, "The Choir of the Office Clerks," which the Peru State Concert Choir sang a couple days earlier--click here to compare the two versions and enjoy the following video of the conclusion to an entertaining evening for everyone involved.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Peru State College Choral Concert on Sunday, February 24

The Peru State Concert Choir, Madrigal Singers, and the Misty Blues performed this Sunday in the Peru State College Theater.

You can see a slide show and download pictures from the three sections of the concert at which the students performed with both enthusiasm and excellence. Here you will find pictures of the Concert Choir. Most of my pictures of the Madrigal Singers did not come out, for which I am sorry; at this site, you will find the five that did not come out horribly out of focus. But for better Madrigal Singer times, check out again the Madrigal Dinner before Christmas, for some of the pictures turned out very well. And I posted quite a few shots of the Misty Blues that I hope you will enjoy.

The preceding links will take you to the "grid" choice of the
Gallery photographs. Certainly watch a slide show, but experiment with the other options as well, for both Mosaic and the Carousal provide interesting perspectives. And remember that you can download the entire album and/or individual shots.

As usual, Dr. Tom Ediger and students put on an exciting show. If you missed the performances or if you just want to remember the fun, watch the following videos from the concert I recorded and posted on You Tube.

First up are a couple numbers from the Concert Choir. The first number featured here by the choir actually came last, as choir tradition dictates--listen to the Peru State College Song:

The Concert Choir also sang the "Choir of the Office Clerks," a humorous song which includes some lines about a haughty Tenor. Imagine that!

The Madrigal Singers' harmonious voices contributed a fun number, "The Sound of Pipe and Drum":

And, as always, the Misty Blues rounded out an exciting afternoon of music. Here the dancers entertain with their lively conclusion to "Jambalaya" and then will give you coffee-induced jitters with their hilarious and energetic version of "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup":

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feathers and Verses in Kearney at the Nebraska State Reading Associatoin Meeting

This Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23, I gave a couple presentations of my Feathers and Verses program at the Nebraska Readers Association Conference in Kearney. As the group's logo duplicated here indicates, this association works to promote literacy in Nebraska and holds a state conference every two years. Click here to learn more about this important advocacy group and the works its members do throughout the state.

Two years ago at this conference, I did my first program using PowerPoint and digital images instead of the slide projector. To create digital images, I had scanned in my photographs and slides of birds.

Over the past couple years, a lot has changed with my program, including the content, for now all the photographs in the program come from pictures I have taken using my digital camera. And I have also added a few electronic features, including bird songs.

Feathers and Verses remains part of the Nebraska Humanities Council's Speakers Bureau; click here to view a brief description of the program.

I have in one form or another given creative writing workshops connected with bird images for the past twenty years. My most recent events include Prairie Discovery Day at Fertig Prairie. As clicking on Prairie Discovery Day indicates, each fall for the past four years, I have given presentations on birds and creative writing outdoors in support of the Wachiska Audubon Society's program. This year, nearly 100 5th graders from Schuyler took part in the program; among other things, they learned a lot about insects of multiple varieties.

Of course, doing the program outdoors precludes much of the computer and projector fun but does suggest the program's flexibility.

This October, I also took part in the second of St Patrick's impressive Literature
Festival and look forward to the next gathering. At the festival linked here, I joined with luminaries such as Nebraska State Poet Bill Kloefkorn and Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and gave four presentations to fourth and fifth graders; we all enjoyed a grand time.

I enjoy giving programs for audiences of all ages. In Falls City last spring, for instance, I gave a presentation in the afternoon for youngsters and then another show later that evening for adults, though the adults did not write any poems (this time around).

At the Nebraska Reading Association, I also showed for the first time in public a bird video I created as part of what I call The Trace Trail Trilogy, films of the Sherman Memorial Area near Peru, of birds common to the area, and of flowers and other sights along the trail; to see an early version of the video on You Tube, just click below or visit the Trace Trail page of the blog linked above.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The History Making Democratic Party Caucus in Auburn

Yesterday, February 9, I and around 125 other people took part in the first Nebraska Democratic Party Caucus, a gathering of enthusiastic Blue Voters from Nemaha Country who met for an hour and some change at the
Auburn Senior Center. And from the news accounts of the chaotic caucus events in Omaha and elsewhere, the historic events generated a lot more voter interest than anticipated.

Johnson County held its caucus in the same building and both gatherings went smoothly.

As happened in the Virgin Islands, Washington, and Louisiana, Barak Obama took the vote in Auburn--his 67 to 55 for Hillary Clinton (or there abouts); Obama's margin of victory in the final state tally revealed a much more pronounced victory for the charismatic candidate.

Oh, I stayed on the Clinton side, ever in the minority in these matters.

As the images collected here illustrate, all took seriously the matter at hand and engaged in a lively debate, trying to win over the undecided and others to their respective camps. And you will notice quite a few familiar Peru and Peru State College faces, including Rich Clopton, Professor of Biology, who served as the caucus chairperson and who along with Deb Clopton worked hard to organize the event.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Good Fun and Vibes at the Peru, Nebraska, VFW, with SUM GUISE

Chaney, Anderson, Fike, and Pope (left to right) Play

On Friday night, a wonderfully fun-loving and sometimes raucous crowd gathered at the Peru VFW to listen to and enjoy Ken Anderson and his friends' band, Sum Guise, pluck, strum and sing away the evening.

The following musicians account for Sum Guise's sound and song:

Ken Anderson (guitar);
John Chaney (harmonica); Art Homer (dobro); Ken Fike (mandolin); Brian Perkins (bass); and Jim Pope (banjo).

Everyone enjoyed the show, and I had wanted since the beginning of the school year to photograph the band. After a couple more sessions with the camera, I hope to add a movie made from images from the band and one or two of their numbers.

But for now, check out this video of the Sum Guise's playing a couple songs, including the popular Sam The Cham and the Pharos' signature tune, "Little Red Riding Hood"--the preceding link will also take you to the Pharos' singing and many other Red Riding Hood song links from the hilarious to the absurd.

You can also enjoy a slide show I made from last night at the Peru VFW. I published the pictures on Flickr, the more permanent site; just click here to enjoy a slide show from last night's fun. I will post the names of all the band members, but for now, just enjoy the video and the pictures.

And the crowd included a number of the band's long-time fans, especially the energetic group pictured here. Groupies?

When you get a chance, check out the band, for you will have a good time wherever the fellows play.

Doc Sherwood, Professor Emeritus of Art sitting in the center will paint a picture of the band from a couple of the pictures collected on the slide show; I plan to post in the near future a photograph of the finished project.

Friday, February 1, 2008

NSEA Lobby Day at the Lincoln Capitol Building

On 31 January, a pleasant but still chilly day, I took part in Lobby Day at the Unicameral, something new for me, serving as a member of the NSEA (Nebraska State Educational Association) Legislative Contact Team. Around a hundred teachers from across the state gathered in the capitol rotunda to talk with State Senators about Education in Nebraska.

I enjoyed the experience, getting to meet teachers from across the state and some of our State Senators, including Senator Dave Pankonin and Senator Gail Kopplin--my own Senator, Senator Levan Heidemann was excused for the day, but I look forward to talking with him soon.

I did not realize the extent to which higher salaries in Iowa and
Wyoming in particular bleed the state of talent. While we enjoy a very high reputation in the nation for what our elementary and high schools attain, teachers' salaries sit at 43rd in the nation--and they are dropping; starting salaries rank 47th.

I enjoyed a great deal looking at the busts of those people inducted into the Nebraska
Hall of Fame, including Mari Sandoz, whose sculpture I include here.

Anyway, I look forward to learning more and posted a few pictures of the day here, including our lunch with State Senators Kopplin and Pankonin.

And while I have taught at Peru State College for fifteen years and visited the NEA building many, many times on union-related business, until yesterday, I had never stepped inside the beautiful capitol building.

he murals inside are stunning, and as previously noted, Nebraska State Hall of Fame busts line various halls. Impressive.

I also stood in the gallery and listened to Ernie Chambers speak about a bill, though not about LB 1100, a bill in committee that seeks to elevate salaries for teachers across Nebraska. The debate will, to be sure, prove interesting.

Next time, I will take the tour. Again, I posted a brief slide show and enjoyed a great deal lunch at the Embassy Suites with legislators, union officials, and educators.