By Mark Ambrogi
The term transition year was tossed around the Carmel High School choir scene quite a bit last summer.
After all, Carmel High School had to replace three choir directors in Ann Conrad (retirement), Lamonte Kuskye (left for Park Tudor job) and Diana Gillespie. Kuskye and Conrad had led Carmel choirs for several years.
Katherine Kouns was hired as director of choirs, John Burlace and Joe Foltz were named as associate directors of choirs.
“For most schools it takes a few years to really mesh with directors and a different style and get used to competing in a different way,” said senior Kristin Barnes, a member of the Ambassadors for three years. “I would say it’s been a wonderful year. It’s been good to get all different kinds of styles and experience learning from different kind of people. It went better than a lot of people expected. I think a lot of people in the group had a feeling from the first day in August than we were going to be better than people were giving us credit for.”
Carmel choir groups will display their talents with the Evening with the Ambassadors and the Accents at 7 p.m. on March 28 at the school’s auditorium. The Ambassadors are Carmel’s mixed show choir while Accents are an all-female show choir.
“It’s been a very successful year,” Kouns said. “In any kind of transition there are going to be growing pains. There’s going to be a period of time when people are getting used to new personalities on both sides (teachers and students).”
The Ambassadors finished third in the first competition in Danville, Ill., in February, followed by second at the Chicagoland Showcase in Arlington Heights, Ill., on March 6-7 and was named Grand Champion in the final competition at Lafayette Jeff on March 14.
“I had absolutely no idea what to expect but I think the season was incredibly successful,” said Betsy Adams, a senior with the Ambassadors. “The concept of going third, second and then first, the life lessons in that were unmatched. The work ethic that it took to get to where we were was incredibly rewarding.”
In the women’s division, the Accents finished second at Danville and then was named Grand Champions at the final two competitions.
“It’s been impressive to see how far the students have come in this one year,” Kouns said. “They have challenges they’ve overcome to make it a very successful year. In any situation like this, it could fall apart. People could dig their heels in and be stubborn. They did the opposite. They came together and achieved more than we ever hoped they could this year.”
The Ambassadors’ set for the competition season was based on “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” Senior Aaron Jacobs performs as Wonka.
“It’s definitely bittersweet for me because after the last two weeks of competition, I really got connected to show,” Jacobs said. “I feel it’s a little bit a part of me now because we’ve done it so much. There is so much heart to show. It will be sweet because it’s a final performance and we all come together. But at the same time, it will be sad to leave my character and every one else’s character behind.”
Adams, who was a member of Accents her sophomore year before spending the two years with Ambassadors, said she will miss it.
“I’m glad the two groups are coming together for this last performance,” Adams said. “It’s a nice way for me to end my time here in particular.”