SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerville High School Chamber Choir is one of five high school choral groups in the United States selected as a finalist in the Varsity Brand Spirit Awards Choral Contest to be held at Walt Disney World May 13.
The 27-voice choir has been invited to Florida along with choral groups from Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri and Wisconsin for a three-day weekend including the awards ceremony.
The choirs are being recognized as much for their community involvement and good deeds as they are for their musical talent.
Each group will also perform in one of the Disney theme parks, and will spend their weekend at Disney’s All-Star Resort. The invitation includes hotel accommodations, admission to all theme parks and bus transportation. Air fare is not included - and there is no line item in the school district’s budget to pay for the trip to Florida, so the choir is turning to the public to help raise the $18,000 to underwrite the expense of the trip.
Choir director Karen Gorzynski is confident donors will dig in to their pockets because of all the good will generated by the chamber choir’s free performances beyond the confines of the school over the years.
The chamber choir is a familiar site in downtown Somerville every Christmas season, dressed in Edwardian-inspired costumes and singing carols; performing at other schools and for civic groups including the Somerville and Branchburg Rotary clubs and performing at the tree lightings in Somerville and Branchburg.
The chamber choir also performs annually during the Christmas season with the Peter Mayer “Stars and Promises” band at the United Reformed Church on Main Street. Mayer is the lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett.
In her nomination letter to the sponsors, Gorzynski wrote: “The Somerville High School chamber choir believes in bringing goodness and joy into their community through music. Every year, the choir teams up with a local school for students with disabilities to build friendships and host a concert for the community . . .”
“These kids have given tons of their time to the community,” she said. “We would very much like to do this, they so deserve to go,” she added. “They don’t do all of these things to be rewarded, but it would be nice to show them that someone is noticing their good deeds and that someone wants to recognize them for this,” she said.
A fund raising account has been created on the GoFundMe site online for donations. The link is: https://www.gofundme.com/somerville-hs-chamber-choir-to-fl
The GoFundMe account was created by SHS graduate and former choir member Scott Visco, who helps keep choral music director Karen Gorzynski in touch with vocal music alumni from the past 32 years.
Visco’s entry on GoFundMe reads:
“The Somerville High School Chamber Choir (Somerville, NJ) has been named as a finalist in the Varsity Brand Spirit Awards Choral Contest for Community Service.
“Mrs. Karen S. Gorzynski nominated the choir when they were finishing up a busy caroling season out in the community. The SHS Chamber Choir sang for senior citizens, hospice care services, Main Street businesses, the Rotary Club, local offices, 8th grade open house, and more.
“They truly serve as ambassadors for the high school bringing joy to all through music everywhere they go. Their favorite community outreach is the day they spend singing with the choir from The Midland School.
“After all of their good deeds, they need our help. As a finalist for this award, they are invited to sing in Disney World and attend the awards ceremony. But, this will take a lot of money.
“So, we are asking for your donations to help send the SHS Chamber Choir to Florida to perform and be a part of the awards ceremony. Our goal is to raise $18,000.00.”
As of 6 p.m. Sunday, the GoFundMe site had collected $535.
Choir members intend to pitch in and do what they can to raise money for the Florida trip, according to Gorzynski, including a car wash, bake sales and a spaghetti dinner.
The other schools invited to Florida include:
Burlington High School a cappella choir, Burlington, WI; Danville High School show choir, Danville, IA; Mount Carmel Academy choir, New Orleans, LA; St. Vincent de Paul Catholic High School choir,| Perryville, MO.
Varsity Brands Inc. the sponsor of the competition is made up of three companies: Varsity Spirit, which sells uniforms, hosts competitions, and runs instructional cheerleading and dance camps; Herff Jones, which is a provider of graduation and educations products such as class rings, jewelry, caps and gowns, yearbooks and recognition products; and BSN Sports, a distributor of sports uniforms and equipment.
Further information is available by calling Gorzynski at Somerville High School at (908) 218-4108.