Longmeadow Lyrics win 2011 American Prize
Date: 8/8/2011Aug. 8, 2011
By Chris Maza
Reminder Assistant Editor
LONGMEADOW Longmeadow High School’s music programs recently earned some more national bragging rights.
The Longmeadow Lyrics recently won first-place honors in the esteemed American Prize in the Choral Performance high school division. The choral group shares first prize with the Junior Mendelssohn Choir in Pittsburgh.
“I think it’s well-deserved recognition for a remarkable group of students,” Kayla Werlin, director of lyrical music at Longmeadow High School. “This group worked really hard and are not content with being average.”
The American prize has been awarded annually since its inception in 2009 and is supported by Hat City Music Theater, a non-profit group based in Danbury, Conn. Winners receive cash awards as well as national notoriety. Longmeadow is expected to receive somewhere between $100 and $500.
The Lyrics entered the contest by submitting 30 minutes worth of recordings that “reflected the students at their best,” Werlin explained. Coming up with that compilation proved to be more challenging than one might think.
“Thirty minute is a lot to put together,” Werlin said. “The most we would perform at any concert was 15 minutes. Most of our performances were no longer than 10 minutes.”
But Werlin said she was convinced that the wide range of selections were worthy of praise.
Two things made the selections particularly special for the Lyrics, the first of which was where many of the selections were performed.
“A lot of the music was from our trip to Italy,” Werlin said. “That trip was very special in that it really brought this group together.”
The second factor was who composed some of the music.
“On thing that I think helped us stand out was that one of the songs was a student composition. One of our seniors wrote the song,” Werlin explained. “I think that is pretty unusual and set us apart.”
With the award, the Lyrics join the Longmeadow High School Symphony Orchestra, which won the American Prize in 2010. However, unlike many schools, there is no competition between the vocalists and the instrumentalists.
“I would certainly hope there isn’t, since a lot of the students do both,” Werlin said. “We are very lucky to work in a place where everyone works together towards being the best they can be. It’s not about winning awards.”
Werlin added that the school and the town should be commended for their support of the district’s music program.
“I am very grateful to the community,” she said. “This community understands what rich experiences can be offered to the students through music and continually supports the program.”