Woodland’s Marshall lends her voice to All-Eastern choir

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Woodland singer Corrine Marshall practices at a high school rehearsal in November.

Woodland Regional High School senior Corrine Marshall did not sleep last weekend.

Instead, Marshall was participating in the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) All-Eastern Music Festival in Baltimore, Md. According to choir director Sean Lewis, Marshall is the first student from Woodland ever to attain this high level of selection.

“She is very deserving and a brilliant student all around,” Lewis said.

The three-day trip was no vacation.

“It’s very, very scheduled,” Marshall said.

Marshall left for Baltimore last Thursday and attended her first rehearsal that night.

Each day after breakfast, the students rehearsed for several hours before they were shepherded off to see sights around Baltimore. In the afternoon, they rehearsed for another four-and-a-half hours, then attended a concert in the evening.

Sunday afternoon, nearly 350 of the best high school choir students from Maryland to Maine blended their voices in song in a concert at Morgan State University.

“It was amazing. The sound in the concert hall was absolutely spectacular, especially with that many people,” Marshall said.

She is used to singing with her high school choir of less than 30 students. Even the all-state choir, which Marshall sang with last year, only had 250 singers.

“It’s a lot of fun just to sing with so many people and be singing the same note. It sounds so rich and so full,” Marshall said.

She said she learned a lot of things about her own voice and other people’s voices.

In February, students were given about ten pieces to learn for the conference and were expected to know it really well by the time they got together to rehearse. During rehearsal, the choir worked on the details, Marshall said, fixing a couple phrases of the piece, but not really learning the song together.

Marshall said she practiced accompanied by her piano at home, her iPod’s piano app and singing along to YouTube videos of the songs.

When she finally got to sing her part with the whole chorus, it was a completely different experience, Marshall said.

“When I’m singing my own voice part, sometimes it just sounds horrible. When the other voices join in, everything comes together and makes sense and it sounds awesome,” she said.

Marshall was picked for the all-region choir based on her score from all states and regionals last year and letters of recommendation. Marshall was in the all-state choir last year, but this year, her all-state auditions were canceled. Her score was in the top 1 percent of the state last year, according to Lewis.

This year, Ryan Frechette, a tenor in the choir, was selected for the All-State Music Festival and Conference April 7 to April10 at the Hartford Convention Center.

Marshall has loved to sing since she was little.

“I wanted to be Brittany Spears when I was three,” she recalled.

Although she loves the coral scene, that’s not where she sees herself once she graduates.

“My dream for when I grow up is to be in musical theater,” Marshall said.

She applied to Western Connecticut State University’s musical theater program, but hasn’t heard back yet.

If Marshall doesn’t get into the musical theater program, she might major in theater and take music classes, she said.

When she’s alone in her house, the alto loves to sing everything from Broadway show tunes to jazz pieces.

“I like a lot of genres of music,” Marshall said.

When she got back to Connecticut early this week, Marshall didn’t stop. She was honored Monday night, along with fellow Woodland student Brian Conway, for excellence in the arts at the Connecticut Association of Schools awards. Conway was honored for his work in visual arts in photography while Marshall was honored for outstanding vocal musicianship.

Marshall said she enjoyed listening to speakers talk about how arts are vital to schools, a sentiment she agrees with.

Marshall will be traveling on the school choir trip to Wales April 13 to 23. She said she’s looking forward to her second trip to that country.

Lewis taught in Wales under a Fulbright scholarship several years ago and now brings high school students there as part of a musical and cultural exchange.

The choir plans to sing with students from Croesyceiliog Comprehensive School in Wales and in the lobby of the Millennium Center.

“We’ll definitely be singing just impromptu performances everywhere,” Marshall said.

Lewis took 22 students to Wales in 2009, but only 12 will make it this year because of increased costs. Last time, students stayed with Welsh families for part of the trip, but this time that didn’t work out, meaning more hotels and higher cost to students. The cost for the flight also soared over the last few months as Lewis was planning the trip.

Despite the increased costs, Lewis obtained a Fullbright alumni grant for $3,000 and CT Community Foundation Grant.