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Music Study Club enhances experience for NISD choirs

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Music Study Club enhances experience for NISD choirs

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  • Photo courtesy of Carolee Botkin and the Music Study Club of NavasotaTuesday’s event is presented by The Music Study Club of Navasota. Pictured (L-R) Front row: Judith LaFontaine, Joyce Jackson, Jeanette Tanski, Guest Artist Soprano Emily Helenbrook, Carolee Botkin and Mary Claire Maggie. (L-R) Back row: Gerald Purcell, Laura Purcell, Carol Gessner, piano accompanist Joshua Destoville, NHS choir director Jessica Steels, Cynthia Todd, Teresa Byrsta and Marilyn Bettes.
  • Examiner photo by Connie ClementsThe Men’s Chorus and the Women’s Chorus include members of the Chamber Choir as well. These students will soon compete at UIL.

It’s supportive relationships like that of the 106-year-old Music Study Club of Navasota and the Navasota ISD Fine Arts Department that set Navasota apart from big city neighbors.

On Tuesday, March 5, the club hosted A Spring Concert and International Music Program at the First Baptist Church, and for the third year in a row, it provided the Navasota High School Women’s Ensemble, Men’s and Women’s Choruses and Chamber Choir, the opportunity for a “dress rehearsal” of sorts to experience performing for an audience before their upcoming competitions.

The Music Study Club of Navasota is a member of the Texas Federation of Music Clubs and the National Federation of Music Clubs and as a local Navasota organization, its focus is on the local school district at all levels – elementary through high school.

Co-President Marilyn Bettes said, “It’s part of our mission to spread music and enhance music within the public schools.”

Under the direction of NHS choir teacher Jessica Steels, the Men’s and Women’s Choruses and the Chamber Choir are preparing for University Interscholastic League (UIL) competition while the Women’s Ensemble, a beginner choir, will participate in competition at the Blinn College Choir Contest in April.

According to Bettes, the organization’s purpose Tuesday night was twofold.

Bettes said, “This is a way to give them, with the UIL competition looming, the opportunity to perform before an audience and to let the community see what they are doing.”

Despite the freezing weather, nearly 100 parents, friends and music lovers turned out to support the students and hear beautiful music. Attendees also got a glimpse of what the students experience during competition, especially in sight-reading, a category in which Navasota’s choir students have excelled in the past.

After the student performances, all were treated to the musical repertoire of guest artist, soprano Emily Helenbrook, a graduate student at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music pursuing her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance. Helenbrook has performed internationally and her selections Tuesday evening ranged from Bach to Puccini, Gershwin to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The pianist accompanying the choirs and Ms. Helenbrook was New Orleans-born Joshua Destoville, a student at Prairie View A&M who has studied music for 28 years. Destoville is in his third year working with Steels and the NHS choir and has “enjoyed performances and competitions under the mentorship of the renown choir-director and composer Moses Hogan.”

The Music Study Club of Navasota has provided Navasota students with exposure to highly accomplished guest artists on numerous occasions and Bettes explained that it gives them “an opportunity to hear something from a different type of music than they would normally be exposed to.”

The organization is also looking forward to awarding the Jane Lott Music Study Club Scholarship this spring to a graduating high school senior, who plans to study music as a major or minor on the college level. The Music Study Club of Navasota has proudly awarded the Jane Lott Music Study Club Scholarship for more than 50 years.