With just two days to rehearse six pieces for the combined choirs of six region high schools, there is just a bit of pressure.
Pressure for the performers. Pressure for the guest conductor.
One student who is slack in learning and working through a piece can ruin the performance for the 260 others singing in the combined choir, said Russell Seaton, guest conductor of this year's Western ‘A' Choral Festival.
"You don't want to be that student," Seaton said Monday during the second day of rehearsals.
The group, which performed at the Hamilton Performing Arts Center Monday night, was clearly a bit anxious about some of the choreography in the concert's finale, an upbeat piece from A.R. Rahman called "Jai Ho!"
But Justin Winder, a junior from Corvallis High School, said he thought it helped to focus on the intricate hand and arm gestures Seaton had worked into the piece.
"All I can say is I'm really excited for tonight," he said, finally. "It's going to be awesome."
Peggy Leonardi, Hamilton High School's choir director, said the addition of Stevensville this year made for the biggest group they'd had yet for the event.
"Now we just need to find a place to put them all," she said as Seaton directed "alto ones" this way and "alto twos" another.
Seaton, a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, spent two full days working with the choirs, each of which performed one number on their own.
With just a few hours left to practice on Monday, Seaton was both the tough task master - "I want to see you snapping those movements" - and the cheerleader who asked students to give themselves a hand after perfecting an intricate sequence of choreography.
The program culminated work that has been a major focus for the choirs since school began, Leonardi said.
"It's really exciting, when we get to this point," she added.
Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at 363-3300 or email@example.com.