Seven Freed-Hardeman University students sang with the Young Adult Honors Performance Series in August 2019 at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.
FHU students have been finalists in the Young Adult Honors Performance Series since the program began in 2016. This year’s participating students were Jacob Dowdy, Holden Mobley, Abigail Moore, Jacob Moseley, Parker Pearce, Hannah Weakland and Alec Wimmer. An eighth student, Summer England, was named a finalist as well, but was unable to travel. The FHU students were seven of 70 finalists selected from more than 14,000 auditions submitted from around the world. FHU students spent six days in Sydney working with renowned conductors and musicians to prepare for the performance.
“It’s an odd thing, stepping onto a plane on a Monday and then stepping off at your destination on a Wednesday. For us, the Sydney singers, Tuesday, July 30, is the day that ceased to exist all while being chased by the sun into the southern hemisphere to a land down under, Australia!” Jacob Moseley, a 2019 FHU graduate, said.
While in Sydney, performers took a day trip to the Blue Mountains and a Finalist Celebration Cruise on Sydney Harbour. Singers worked with Dr. Jeffrey Redding, director of choral activities at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Florida. As a conductor and clinician, Redding has led choirs in performances at state, regional, and national conventions of the American Choral Directors' Association (ACDA). For the Young Adult Honors Performance Series, Redding selected several songs including “Ave Maria” and “Hallelujah from the Mount of Olives” and “Berusa Er” (“Drink Abundantly”).
Gary McKnight, FHU associate professor of music and director of University Chorale, said watching the student singers perform was an emotional experience.
“Listening and watching them made me realize our students are learning and growing to the point that they’re being recognized amongst the best and on an international stage,” McKnight said. “Their performance gave me a lot of joy. It’s been very satisfying to see them develop, enjoy what they do and excel.”
Performing at the Sydney Opera House was FHU graduate student Parker Pearce’s third time on a world-renowned stage. “I have performed twice at Carnegie Hall through this same program in 2017, and in 2018 I was actually selected to be a soloist,” Pearce said. “I didn't plan on auditioning a third time, but when I heard the program would be in Sydney, I couldn't help myself.”