Groundbreaking performance for Riley Elementary Honor Choir

The Charles E. Riley Elementary School Honor Choir became the first elementary school group to be invited to perform at the LeMoyne College Vocal Jazz Festival in the prestigious event’s 14 year history. The audition ensemble, pictured with advisor Ceara Windhausen at left and internationally renowned vocalist and educator Greg Jasperse at right, received a standing ovation for their performance of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)” and Roger Emerson’s “Blue Skies.” In the fourteen-year history of the prestigious LeMoyne College Vocal Jazz Festival, never has an elementary school been invited to perform – until now.
Members of the Charles E. Riley Elementary School’s Honor Choir took the stage this past weekend alongside college and high school groups with a show-stopping performance that “really rose to the occasion,” according to Honor Choir advisor Ceara Windhausen.
An audition ensemble specializing in what Windhausen called “extremely high level elementary music,” the Honor Choir received a standing ovation for their renditions of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)” and Roger Emerson’s “Blue Skies.”
“I firmly believe that if we have faith in our students, they can do anything,” said Windhausen, who also serves as a music teacher at Riley. “They always rise above my extremely high expectations and represented Riley in a respectful, responsible way.”
In addition to performing at the festival, the Honor Choir had an opportunity to receive instruction from Greg Jasperse, an internationally renowned and accomplished jazz vocalist, composer and arranger whose work has been featured on Broadway, the television program “Glee” and has performed alongside superstar musician Adele.
“He helped us with the music we were singing, gave us some advice to make it better, and it was really fun, too,” said sixth grader Kylie Pratt.
Pratt said she was “kind of nervous” during the performance but felt it was a “great opportunity” to participate in the festival.
“I thought it was awesome we were the only elementary school and makes me feel very special,” said Pratt, adding that to succeed with the group, “you just have to work hard and pay attention,” and “it’s the best opportunity for people to hear your voice in a special choir.”
The Honor Choir will next perform at 1:15 p.m. on Nov. 25 during the City of Oswego Annual Christmas Tree Lighting’s “Day of Sharing” festivities in downtown Oswego, as well as at Oswego High School on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. for the Charles E. Riley Concert Band, Chorus and Orchestra Concert.