Marion Masquerade will give students a chance to perform even during pandemic

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:30 PM CST
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - Many show choir seasons look different for the 2021 high school competition season.

But even with the challenges COVID-19 presents, Marion High School is hosting its annual Marion Masquerade show choir competition on Saturday.

The Masquerade is a signature event each year for Marion. Marion High School Vocal Music Director Jonathan Dyrland says the event is much smaller this year, saying “Normally this is a two-day event. This year it’s going to just be a one-day event. Normally we have probably 30-40 groups performing and this year we have 14.”

Instead of the usual general admission, tickets for the event are being sold online and in advance, in order to help control the size of the audience.

Dyrland says he thinks it’s important to give students a chance to compete. “We just made a commitment to our students, we just said look, if you want to do this, we want to direct you, we want to give this opportunity. And we had some students decide they didn’t want to do it this year, but we also had a bunch of students who still wanted to, and yeah, they’re excited,” says Dyrland.

And students, especially the seniors approaching their final performances, say they’re grateful for the chance.

Xavier High School from Cedar Rapids is one of the schools performing Saturday for the Marion Masquerade, and students say they’re thrilled to be competing. “Show choir is such a unique environment anyways. Its just great to be with our team and be able to practice and sing and dance together, like everything is normal,” says Xavier High School senior Arwen Gilbert.

“We’re wearing these singers masks. We’re doing everything we can, and to be able to have a season in general is just astonishing and very exciting,” says Xavier High School senior Colin Battien.

While the Marion Masquerade is being held in-person, Xavier show choirs will be dancing on a screen, choosing to compete, virtually, with a pre-recorded show.

“We’ll be recording right here in our gymnasium with a wider riser setup, in our full show combo, everything will be masked, everything’s a little further apart because of distancing protocols. So it looks a little different, but I think it still feels the same,” says Xavier High School Director of Vocal Music Philip Schroetter. The pre-recorded show will be performed for student’s families, and recorded the day before the competition.

Several groups in the Benton Community School District will be competing in-person at the Masquerade.

John Hayden, Vocal Music Director at Benton Community High School, says the routine of rehearsals is important for students, especially with much of the school year looking different due to COVID-19. “The kids are doing great. I mean you hear about kids being resilient and rising above things. In my whole 27 years of teaching, I don’t think there’s been a scenario where we’ve asked the kids to really rise more than what they’ve had to do this year,” says Hayden.

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