East Rowan Honors Chorus is no Foreigner to success

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

By Savannah Morgan 


On Aug. 5, 25 students in the East Rowan High School Honors Chorus will abandon traditional auditorium risers and instead embrace a rock stage in Charlotte.

Foreigner, a popular rock band of the ’80s, opened a contest to each city on its 40th anniversary tour. The prize? The once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform the band’s 1984 hit “I Want to Know What Love Is” on stage with the band.

Dean Orbison, choral director at East Rowan High, heard about the radio contest from a parent. Channel 99.7 asked Charlotte area high schools to submit a short application as well as a 10-second video of their chorus singing. Orbison is always looking for opportunities for his students, so he immediately submitted the required materials.

“Why not?” Orbison said of the submission. “Some school has to be selected, so it might as well be us.”

When the winners were announced, Orbison says he was shocked as well as excited to offer his students yet another opportunity.

“We’ve performed on stage in Carnegie Hall. We’ve performed all over the East Coast. Now, let’s see what it is to be on a rock stage,” Orbison said.

The next step was for Orbison to choose which lucky 25 students he would take along for the trip. He knew he wanted to give all 11 graduating seniors the chance to go, but the decision on who else would receive the remaining 14 spots was impossible, he said.

Because there was no way for Orbison himself to choose which students would make the trip, he held an essay contest. Interested members of his honors chorus were told to describe what the performance would mean to them. Next, Orbison enlisted the help of an anonymous friend to whom he left the decision. Orbison released the names of the students who will make the trip last Friday.

The chorus members seemed just as excited about the opportunity as Orbison.

“There’s a lot of chemistry in choirs, and we’ve really worked hard. It’s awesome to come together for this opportunity,” said Ethan Diaz, a junior.

“We are all really excited. It’s an amazing opportunity,” senior Alyssa Potts added.

The 25 selected students will begin rehearsing in the days after their final concert of the semester. Additionally, they will rehearse twice over the summer — once in July and once in August just before their performance.

Students will enter the stage about 50 seconds after Foreigner begins singing “I Want to Know What Love Is,” one of the last songs to be performed at the concert. Students will remain onstage for six minutes but will leave with a lifetime of memories, Orbison said.

“They can tell their grandchildren about this. They can say, ‘I sang on a rock stage,'” Orbison said. “That’s amazing,”

Students who will participate in the concert in August are: Emily Avalos, Bryce Coleman, McKenzie Collins, Emily Daubenmire, Bailey DeGroat, Ethan Diaz, Katie Eller, Grace Faller, Alex Gobbel, Gabe Hinceman, Ashton Hopper, Gracie Hudson, Hannah Julian, Hannah Mayhew, Ashley Medina, Cole McGraw, Leah Meisimer, Alyssa Potts, Taylor Seinerth, Imoni Smith, Allison Snider, Kaitlyn Thompson, Ashlie White, Logan Williams and Savannah Winters.