Niwot choir, set to perform at Vocal Gala, had Broadway experience



The Niwot High School Choir had an opportunity thousands dream of hope to realize as adults.

Niwot’s choir took part in a one-night-only concert version of the musical The Titanic on Broadway in February. The concert, held at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, returned to the stage seventeen years after Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s Tony-award winning musical debuted. Students from Niwot were invited to participate in the celebration of the musical after being selected by Manhattan Concert Productions upon submission of an audio recording of their music.

“They invite students from across the country,” Kim Watkins, Niwot’s Vocal Music Director, said of the event. “The chorus was comprised of a little over 200 students from across the country at various (high) schools. We had 26 students from Niwot participate and I opened it up to anyone in an auditioned choir. They could choose to pick the trip or not, and if they were in a non-auditioned choir they had to audition for me for the opportunity to attend. Then we prepared them in advance.

“The Broadway stars and the guy that conducted them on Broadway and a lot of the original Broadway cast came out and played the leading roles,” Watkins added. “The kids got to participate in the chorus, got to have a lot of rehearsal time with the principle characters and watched them in action. There was a cast party and they got to talk to them and take photos and ask questions. It was a really cool experience.”

Joe Castinado, a junior at Niwot, won the coveted role of the Bell Boy. He was the only person in a named role that had never been on Broadway before.

“It was such an incredible opportunity,” Watkins said of her students’ participation in the musical. “These high school students essentially got to be on Broadway for a night. They had the opportunity to assemble with this Tony award winning cast and to perform under a conductor who has this huge reputation and has conducted all these major Broadway shows.

"It was just such an amazing experience for the students to be exposed to the conductor and to all of the Broadway stars. I came away from it thinking it was one of the most incredible things I’ve been a part of and I think a lot of the students would say that it was the best experience of their life.”

The Niwot choir is one of 12 outstanding high school groups selected to attend the CHSAA Vocal Music Gala, a special concert held on Friday, May 2.

Niwot will be performing songs unrelated to The Titanic. Watkins said there are lots of legalities involved when it comes to performing musicals at the Gala and, for CHSAA Festivals, classical music is encouraged.

“We’re going to perform our festival literature,” Watkins said of Friday’s concert. “We’re singing four pieces and they have nothing do with Titanic. We will be performing the literature we sang for the judges at the CHSAA Large Group Northern that just happened a couple of weeks ago.”

The Gala will showcase choirs from the following high schools: Lutheran, Castle View, Air Academy, Montezuma-Cortez, Palmer Ridge, Mitchell, D’Evelyn, Harrison, Loveland, Discovery Canyon, Niwot and Lewis-Palmer.

The concert will be held at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens. Seating at the Newman Center is limited, so it is highly encouraged to buy tickets in advance (303-871-7720) or show up early at the ticket box office.