By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

Of the three choirs selected to perform at the Mississippi Music Educators Association convention in Hattiesburg later this month, two – Milam Intermediate and Tupelo Middle – are from the Tupelo Public School District.

“It’s highly unusual – virtually unheard of,” said Tupelo Middle School choral director Dr. Larry Newell. “You just don’t expect two schools from the same school district to be selected.”

Milam Intermediate’s sixth-grade girls’ choir and Tupelo Middle School’s all-girl concert choir will be performing for about 300 participants in the Mississippi Music Educators Association convention at the University of Southern Mississippi on April 26. A Vicksburg High School choir was also selected to participate.

Before being selected for the event, choirs submitted audition tapes to a panel of USM music majors, who served as judges.

“We sent in our tape, and didn’t really think about it very much after that,” said Milam Intermediate choral director Jim Armstrong, whose group is performing several spirituals at the event. “I’d heard the choirs that performed there before, and I wasn’t sure mine was exactly what they were looking for. But evidently, they heard something they liked. They only want the best choirs to perform for their music program. This is quite an honor.”

This year’s invitation is the first for Armstrong, who has taught at the school for 12 years. Tupelo Middle School had a choir perform at the convention in 1990. This year’s choir plans to perform several spirituals and folk songs a capella.

Milam students said they were excited to be the first choir from their school chosen to attend.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun to sing to the music teachers,” said 12-year-old Rachel Collins.

But more than anything, Collins said participation in the choir is something she does because it’s fun.

“It’s fun to sing and we’ve learned about music,” she said. “We’ve learned how to read certain notes and things.”

Both schools also have boys’ choirs, but the girls’ choirs were selected for competition. Boys and girls normally don’t perform in the same choir until high school, when boys’ voices have matured.

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