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High School Choir Connects on Video for Beautiful Acapella Version of 'Over the Rainbow'

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For months, a high school choir ensemble from Chino, California, had been eagerly looking forward to a district-wide choral festival followed by a choir trip to Boston.

But when the coronavirus pandemic closed down Chino Valley Unified School District, the students’ hopes of traveling anywhere were dashed.

Seniors wondered what would become of their high school prom, their graduation ceremony and the enjoyment of performing in their final choir concert of the year.

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“This wasn’t just devastating to our students, who had been practicing for months, but to people in our community,” the school’s communications director Imee Perius told The Orange County Register.

“I thought, ‘I wish there was a way we could put on a virtual performance.’”

Choir director Laura Rutherford agreed, and worked with her choir ensemble to perform a magical acapella version of “Over the Rainbow.”

Rutherford emailed a piano accompaniment to each of her 19 vocal ensemble students, asking them to sing and record their individual parts and send the four best takes of their performance back.

Students told the OCR that it was difficult to sing a part alone when typically they are surrounded by an entire ensemble of voices.

“We’re used to hearing the other voices around us and adjusting to each other, trying to blend,” senior soprano Rebecca Huff said.

Perius knew the task would be a challenge, but that Chino Valley students would rise to the occasion.

“You’re at home, you’re remote, you have to sing your portion into a camera phone,” Perius told Good Morning America. “But they all did, and it took about 24 hours for all of them to come together and send me everything electronically.”

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Professional video editor Rob Wiltsey volunteered his time to put the 19 individual voices together into one collective video, a musical masterpiece that has left listeners across the globe with goosebumps.

“They were so excited about [the video] because they thought it the perfect way that they could give back and they could contribute,” Perius said.

While the choir kids originally thought they would spread hope in their immediate community, their music has reached the ears of millions who desperately needed a pick-me-up during a difficult time of social distancing.

“We’ve reached half a million people on Facebook alone,” Perius told GMA. “It really is incredible.”

Perius said the students have received praise and support from listeners worldwide, giving students a much-needed morale boost.

“These students wanted to give back to their community, but the world is giving back to these students,” she said.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
Page, Arizona
Bachelor of Science in Music Education
Phoenix, Arizona
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