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Parkersburg High School Chamber Choir to perform at White House

Members of the Parkersburg High School Chamber Choir sing during a practice Tuesday at the school. The choir will sing at the White House next month, performing a variety of Christmas and holiday songs. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — The Parkersburg High School Chamber Choir will be spreading holiday cheer in Washington, D.C., next month after being selected to perform at the White House.

Choir director Joshua Dubs said he submitted recordings of the choir’s award-winning performance at a competition last April in New York.

Parkersburg High’s chamber and a cappella choirs won numerous first-place awards at the nationally-recognized competition and was named an outstanding choral program. The 25-member chamber choir was selected to perform Dec. 7 at the White House as part of its annual Christmas program. The choir will perform a four-hour rotation, taking periodic breaks.

“I am so proud of the students,” he said.

Dubs said it is an opportunity not only for students to experience performing at the White House, but also for them to represent the state in a positive way.

Choir director Joshua Dubs works with the Parkersburg High School Chamber Choir on Tuesday in preparation for members to sing at the White House next month. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“I believe it is our duty as West Virginians to prove to our nation that we are not the stereotype laid before us,” he said. “We sing some of the most beautiful music about our state. There are wonderful people here. There is wonderful music being made here. There is wonderful art and culture. We have to go out and show it.”

The choir members said they were excited for the opportunity.

“It’s awesome,” junior Zane Lemley said. “I never thought in my life I would be able to go to the White House.”

“It’s crazy,” said senior Haylee Smith. “I never would have thought this early in the year we’d be doing something this big.”

While the choir will mostly perform songs it already knows, Dubs said he hopes to throw a few new things into the mix as well. Dubs said the Chamber Choir is a smaller group of students who display a deeper understanding of music and the challenges of small choir performances.

Joshua Dubs, right, directs members of the Parkersburg High School Chamber Choir during a practice session Tuesday at the school. The choir will perform in Washington, D.C., in early December. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“I look for students that are really prepared for the experience,” he said. “Do they understand how to make music, not just can they sing.”

Smith and Lemley said compared to competitions, the White House performance will be relatively easy.

“Competitions are the most nerve wracking,” Smith said. At the White House, “nobody is going to be judging us. It will just be people walking through. You don’t have to worry about scoring.”

Smith said she is much more nervous knowing the choir’s Christmas performance at Parkersburg High School will occur just 10 days later.

“The concert is the scariest part,” she said. “The Christmas concert is critical.”

Members of the Parkersburg High School Chamber Choir sing during a practice Tuesday at the school. The choir will sing at the White House next month, performing a variety of Christmas and holiday songs. (Photo by Michael Erb)

Dubs said the White House will be a chance to introduce the choir to new people, while the Christmas concert is a tradition for the community.

“It’s one of the most demanding and rewarding events,” he said. “Our town has such an expectation of what that performance should be.”

Dubs said the cost of the trip is estimated to around $6,000, but could increase if the group needs to rent a bus for the trip. So far the choir has raised about $1,800, but continues to seek sponsors and donations from local businesses.

Dubs said businesses or individuals wanting to help sponsor the students should contact him through Parkersburg High School. Letters have already been sent out to numerous businesses.

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com.

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