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Corbett band, choir ring in holidays

Singers practiced their German to tackle Bach piece
by: photo courtesy of Gene Takalo The Corbett High School Choir performs at the Good Shepherd Community Church Christmas dinner in Boring on Dec. 2. The choir and Corbett symphonic band will perform together Thursday, Dec. 15, in the Corbett Schools Multi-Purpose Building.

Stephanie Henkel, 17, a senior at Corbett High School, believes she was made to play flute.

'It's a instrument that my entire family's been playing,' she says. 'It's an upper voice so you get the chance to make yourself stand out and also blend in.'

Henkel plays the instrument in the Corbett High Symphonic Band and sings in the choir. Both groups will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, in the Multi-Purpose Building, 35800 E. Historic Columbia River Highway.

Among the pieces Henkel and the band will perform is a 'Christmas Festival' medley of such tunes as 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing,' 'Jingle Bells' and 'Silent Night.'

'Christmas Festival is definitely hard,' Henkel says. 'You have a lot of runs, but with practice you'll get them.'

She adds that she's descended from German immigrants, so she's looking forward to singing alto on the famed German composer J.S. Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio.'

'The whole thing is like three hours long,' says Peter Killgore, 18, a senior who plays French horn in the band. 'The excerpt we're doing is like three minutes.'

Good thing, too, because the singers had to learn how to sing in German, Killgore says.

'It can be pretty difficult because German has a lot of sounds we don't make in English,' he says, noting he sings bass in the choir. The school brought in a native German speaker for a day to teach the choir how to sing the words correctly, he adds.

In addition to French horn, Killgore has played percussion and studied the piano. He's one of several students who share double duties musically at Corbett, like Taylor Fahlman, 17, a senior who plays euphonium and sings tenor.

Fahlman says he likes both trumpet and tuba, so he chose the euphonium because it has a sound that sits 'in the middle between trumpet and tuba. It's the best of both worlds.'

An instrumentalist since he was in the sixth grade, he's a relative newcomer to the singing world, having joined the choir three years ago.

'I was always intrigued by choir music in churches, and I wanted to see what it was all about,' he says.

Meanwhile, Sheldon Grieser, 17, a senior, is strictly instrumental, playing the flute since fifth grade. The instrument presented quite the challenge.

'At first I wanted to quit because I had a hard time with the shaping of the mouth … and sustaining notes because of the mouth issues,' she says. However, she's become adept at playing the instrument and adds she may take up saxophone because it employs similar fingerings.

She's excited to play the holiday medley, she adds.

'They pull out the best parts of a whole bunch of Christmas songs.'