2018 was a year of firsts for the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. The highly-anticipated premiere of the National Choir Festival took place with 12 choral ensembles performing at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, a breathtaking performance by the Aeolians of Oakwood University, and the Music for All National Choir Concert featuring all choral students of the National Choir Festival.

The National Choir Festival performing choirs included:

Conner H.S. Chamber Choir – Hebron, KY; John DeFerraro, director
Dobyns-Bennett H.S. Varsity Choir – Kingsport, TN; Jenny Rogers, director
Herricks H.S. Chamber Choir – New Hyde Park, NY; Louise O’Hanlon, director
Kings H.S. Chamber Choir – Kings Mills, OH; Hope Milthaler, director
Lafayette H.S. Madrigal Singers – Lexington, KY; Ryan Marsh, director
Liberty H.S. Chamber Singers – Colorado Springs, CO; A. J. Wulf, director
Little Miami H.S. Select Women’s Chorale – Morrow, OH; Sarah J. Baker, director
Logan H.S. Chamber Singers – Logan, OH; John McClain, director
McMeans Junior H.S. Varsity Choir – Katy, TX; Steve Kalke, director
Miami Union Academy Concert Choir – North Miami, FL; Jeremy Sovoy Jordan, director
Oakwood Adventist Academy Choir  – Huntsville, AL; Justin Jordan , director
Takoma Academy Chorale – Takoma Park, MD; Lulu Mwangi Mupfumbu, director

Many people were moved to tears by these talented musicians. The church was the perfect venue to display the variety of voices. Later on in the evening, the Aeolians of Oakwood University performed a beautiful 90-minute performance, under the direction of Jason Max Ferdinand. Their repertoire included: Lift Every Voice, If I Can Help, How Great Thou Art, Jubilate Deo, Keramos, Psalm 67, Joshua, Ezekiel, True Religion, Take it to the Lord in Prayer by Nolan Williams, Holy City, and Someday.

To close out the National Choir Festival, the Music for All National Choir Concert took place at Hilbert Circle Theatre on Saturday afternoon. The concert was bookended by the national Treble Choir and Music for All National Choir, featuring 500 voices from 12 high schools from New York, Maryland, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Colorado, as well as one Junior High School Choir from Texas, and two youth choirs from Indianapolis Children’s Choir: Bel Canto and Bella Voce. This impressive concert was under the direction of Music for All Choral Artistic Director, Henry Leck, founder and conductor laureate of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Guest Conductor, Dr. Rollo Dilworth, Professor of Choral Music Education at Temple University.

The choir performed new choral works written specifically for the Premiere National Choir Festival. The concert began with conductor Richard Saucedo’s Music for All 2018 National Fanfare, followed by Saucedo’s arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner, newly-arranged for choir and orchestra for the Music for All Premiere National Choir Festival. The National Treble Choir performed Great Camp Meeting, and I Sing Because I’m Happy composed by Rollo Dilworth, and two original compositions by Jim Papoulis. Next, a special guest choir NOTUS, from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, performed three contemporary musical selections under the direction of Dr. Dominick DiOrio. NOTUS is committed to championing living composers through the commissioning, programming, and recording of new works. The National Festival Mixed Choir then performed Freedom’s Plow by Rollo Dilworth, Jubilate Deo, (Movements 6 and 7) by Dan Forrest. The concert came to a spectacular close with Henry Leck’s We Believe in Music – written in honor of the premiere National Choir Festival. The choir was accompanied by members of the Ball State University Symphony Orchestra, directed by Douglas Droste. NOTUS of Indiana University and The Aeolians of Oakwood University also joined in the finale of the concert, filling Hilbert Circle Theatre with more than 500 voices raised in joyful song.