Ensemble shares the love and harmony in LaGrange Park
Updated: April 22, 2013 2:46AM
LAGRANGE PARK — Park Junior High School eighth-grade soprano Audrey Ashburn sang the first few lines of Billy Joel’s hit, “The Longest Time,” with the firm backing of fellow singers adding rich harmonies and rhythmic snapping to the 1984 classic.
Moments later, the 12-member vocal ensemble Forte was off to the next classroom to deliver singing telegrams in a packed afternoon schedule.
Audrey handed off the solo to seventh-grader Jack Doherty, who admitted to being a little nervous, but relished the spotlight.
“I wanted to try out for this group in the fall because I’ve been singing all my life,” Doherty explained.
For later telegrams, the group sang, “Smile,” by Uncle Kracker and “Just the Way you Are” by Bruno Mars.
Seventh-grade alto Ayse Kelemet said she has learned much from the program that rehearses twice a week after school. She set a festive tone for the group by wearing a headband of hearts that wobbled back and forth.
“I’ve learned to sing as a team and have been exposed to all different songs and different harmonies,” Ayse said. “I love a capella singing. It’s such a blast.”
Eighth-grader Ally Lubera, who sings first and second soprano, said the group has stretched her as a musician.
“I’ve had to explore really advanced material,” Ally said.
Audrey and Jack said Forte rehearsals have pushed them to become better sight readers. Audrey also takes voice lessons and sings with Spiritu and at the First Congregational Church of La Grange.
Park music teacher Kelly Paetsch, who directs Forte, said the group is geared toward singers who have some experience outside of Park’s chorus, which also meets after school.
“We wanted to give kids a chance to shine who have additional skills or experience and want to spend a little more time singing,” Paetsch explained.
The singing telegrams are one of several performances for Forte.
“Oh, it’s so fun for $3 for kids to be able to embarrass their friends,” Paetsch said and laughed. “It’s only 90 seconds of class time lost, so not one teacher seemed to mind this year.”