Invitation Hits The Right Note

March 10, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

With a little luck and a lot of money, Kevin Knapp will be singing tribute to the Allied soldiers of World War II from the American Cemetery near Omaha Beach this summer.

The 16-year-old is a member of the Chesapeake High School Vocal Ensemble, one of two Maryland musical groups invited to participate in the Allied World Liberation Music Celebration in June. The other is Annapolis Area Christian School.

The county Board of Education must approve the European field trip before the students can start raising the $40,000 needed for the trip.

The 12-member group would spend 10 days touring Paris, Normandy and London, giving concerts nearly every evening.

Although the group raises thousands of dollars each year for annual trips to music festivals in Florida and other states, director Karen Rhodes said raising money will be especially difficult this time because "we've tapped people out."

"We just need a really wealthy person who wants to give us some money," Ms. Rhodes said. "The short time notice has been kind of tough."

Ms. Rhodes said she learned in December that the ensemble had been selected as one of two to represent Maryland at the celebration. The group will make its presentation to the school board Wednesday.

The group has raised about $1,000 from private donations, and the booster club is selling $5 tickets for a 50/50 raffle in which the winner gets half of the money raised.

The ensemble specializes in 1940s swing and is practicing several selections for the trip, including "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "In the Mood."

Members of the ensemble, which was formed five years ago, spend eight to 10 hours a week working on songs and dance moves.

They say they perform about 30 times a year at concerts and music festivals across the country. In competition, they have taken first- and second-place honors.

The group also sings for local elementary and middle schools, the county's schools for developmentally disabled students and nursing homes.

"The kids get a big education in music, but they also get a big education in life," Ms. Rhodes said.

Ensemble members say that although they have achieved superior ratings at music festivals, they were surprised to be invited to represent the state in Europe.

"We really pushed Ms. Rhodes pretty hard to go," said Jessica Simmons, a 17-year-old senior who is one of the ensemble's members. "We're really honored."

Members say the applause they get makes their hard work and preparation worthwhile.

"It's a really gratifying feeling being up there on stage in front of all those people," said Kevin Knapp. "You really feel that sense of appreciation."

To buy tickets for the raffle, call Jerry McLean at 360-1338 or 766-1338.

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