LF teens to perform requiem at Paramount Arts

Thrilled about their “opportunity of a lifetime,” Little Falls High School seniors Brandon Yorek and Natalie Shanoff are getting ready to perform with the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota at the Paramount Center of Arts in St. Cloud.

It’s a rare opportunity for two reasons. One, Paramount Center for the Arts is producing the event and hired the Youth Chorale to perform “Requiem for the Living” with a live orchestra.

Secondly, not many high schools have their student choir groups present larger works, such as oratorios, requiems, cantatas and more, said Laurie Johnson, director of performing arts at Paramount Center for the Arts.

Johnson said it all started about two and a half years ago when she visited a high school choral concert. When she discovered that local high schools no longer have their student choir groups perform larger works with large orchestras, she was dismayed.

Little Falls Community High School seniors Natalie Shanoff, left, and Brandon Yorek will be performing “Requiem for the Living” with the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota at Paramount Center for the Arts, Friday April 21 and Saturday 23.
Little Falls Community High School seniors Natalie Shanoff, left, and Brandon Yorek will be performing “Requiem for the Living” with the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota at Paramount Center for the Arts, Friday April 21 and Saturday 23.

The larger works take about 30 to 40 minutes to perform and about a year to prepare.

When she checked with local high school choir directors as to why they no longer performed larger works, she learned there was simply no money in the budget to produce one.

“So I decided the Paramount would produce one. I so very much wanted these high school students to have the experience of producing a large choral masterpiece and working toward a major piece all year long,” Johnson said.

Youth Chorale Founder and Director Garrett Lathe, who is originally from Little Falls, said he’s very excited that the chorale will be performing at Paramount.

Lathe started the Youth Chorale in 2005. Since there are several choir opportunities for children, he noticed there was a lack of high school students.

“I wanted to provide students a way to experience choir music at a higher level,” he said.

This is the first year of being a part of the Youth Chorale for both Shanoff and Yorek. They were encouraged to audition for the Choral — Yorek by Lathe and Shanoff by Yorek. The only regret they have is that they didn’t find out about it until their senior year.

The Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota is made up of about 100 singing high school students, in grades 9-12.

Both Yorek and Shanoff are very dedicated to the Youth Chorale as they travel to St. John’s University in St. Cloud every Sunday. Sometimes they have even more practices. Car pooling every week, Shanoff said she drives every other week. whoever isn’t driving, brings the snacks.

“Many times one of us has just gotten off work and hasn’t had a chance to have dinner. We have agreed that the sweet and spicy Doritos is by far the best snack,” Shanoff said.

One thing Shanoff really enjoys about the Youth Chorale is that those who are there share the same passion for music.

“We aren’t the best of the best, but we strive to be. When we come, we come to make music and we’re prepared to give something to the audience,” Yorek said.

In the Youth Chorale, Yorek sings baritone. Shanoff sings soprano one and two.

Since they started singing with the chorale, both have noticed that their singing voices have improved significantly.

“I have learned how to control the sound I want and to allow the sound I am producing to find its own shape. I’ve learned to create something beautiful while working with the sound I can produce,” Yorek said.

The Youth Chorale will be performing at the Paramount Center for the Arts in St. Cloud, Friday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 23, at 3 p.m.

Lathe said since great music changes people, he is hoping the audience will feel like they have been moved by great music.