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updated: 7/22/2016 4:04 PM

Naperville singers join choir convention for girl power

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  • Two members of the Young Naperville Singers' Bella Voce choir, Naperville Central High School graduate Mariah McDonald, left, and Naperville Central junior Sophie Michael, get to represent Illinois in the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention from Sunday through Friday in Philadelphia.

      Two members of the Young Naperville Singers' Bella Voce choir, Naperville Central High School graduate Mariah McDonald, left, and Naperville Central junior Sophie Michael, get to represent Illinois in the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention from Sunday through Friday in Philadelphia.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Young Naperville Singers members Mariah McDonald and Sophie Michael are preparing 10 songs for the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention from Sunday through Thursday in Philadelphia. The convention, which takes place at the same time and in the same city as the Democratic National Convention, will convene two singers from each state to learn about leadership and unite through song.

      Young Naperville Singers members Mariah McDonald and Sophie Michael are preparing 10 songs for the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention from Sunday through Thursday in Philadelphia. The convention, which takes place at the same time and in the same city as the Democratic National Convention, will convene two singers from each state to learn about leadership and unite through song.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Central High School graduate Mariah McDonald will sing second soprano as one of two Illinois representatives in the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention this week in Philadelphia. She plans to continue singing when she attends Purdue University to study engineering in the fall.

      Naperville Central High School graduate Mariah McDonald will sing second soprano as one of two Illinois representatives in the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention this week in Philadelphia. She plans to continue singing when she attends Purdue University to study engineering in the fall.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Central junior Sophie Michael practices songs for the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention this week in Philadelphia, which coincides with the Democratic National Convention in the same city. She said she's looking forward to being in the same city with "so many powerful people" during the event.

      Naperville Central junior Sophie Michael practices songs for the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention this week in Philadelphia, which coincides with the Democratic National Convention in the same city. She said she's looking forward to being in the same city with "so many powerful people" during the event.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Singing for patriotism

 
 

Two Naperville singers from an advanced all-female choir will represent Illinois next week in Philadelphia for a convention that will meld girl power and patriotism with the power of song.

Taking place at the same time and in the same city as the Democratic National Convention, the Let Freedom SING Girlchoir National Convention aims to inspire and unite young women through music.

Participants will participate in seminars about leadership and politics, tour historic and scenic Philly sites such as the Liberty Bell and the art museum steps of "Rocky" movie fame and take in the ambience of a city hosting the final major political convention of this presidential election year.

But most of all, they'll sing -- early and often and maybe even for some of the political figures in town to officially name presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton the Democrats' pick to run for president.

Mariah McDonald and Sophie Michael are the Naperville teens who get to travel with Young Naperville Singers Artistic Director Angie Johnson to Philadelphia for the gathering of girl singers -- two from each state to compose a choir 100 voices strong.

"Both of them are extremely independent learners and they're leaders," said Johnson, who chose the girls for the national convention because they excel in the advanced Bella Voce choir. "They're amazing, friendly and outgoing."

Michael, an incoming junior at Naperville Central High School who has been singing since second grade, said it will be "mind-blowing" to be in Philadelphia "with so many powerful people" during the convention.

McDonald, a Naperville Central graduate heading to Purdue University to study engineering in the fall, said the opportunity comes along with a memorable milestone: the first year she's eligible to vote.

"I'm looking forward to learning about leadership through singing," said McDonald, who plans to join an extracurricular choir at Purdue. "I think it's going to be really inspiring."

Musically, the teens are memorizing their parts to 10 songs -- several of them patriotic, such as "The Star-Spangled Banner," "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful." But there's also a gospel tune, a South African song, some contemporary choral works, the "Gonna Fly Now" theme from "Rocky" and the Naperville girls' favorite: an opera melody called "Song of the Gypsy Girls."

Michael sings the alto part and McDonald is a second soprano.

"It's been difficult because we have to practice on our own and neither of us has the melody," Mariah said.

But they've been meeting with Johnson at the Naperville Community Concert Center in Central Park to perfect their parts before flying east on Sunday for the six-day convention hosted by Pennsylvania Girlchoir. Johnson gets to join in the trip and conduct the choir during one of its performances.

Young Naperville Singers was selected to provide Illinois' representation for the convention after a performance early this year at the American Choral Directors Association central division conference in Chicago.

The nationwide group is set to sing its culminating concert Wednesday at Arcadia University, with other pop-up performances throughout the city.

"Through music we're going to come together," Johnson said about the soon-to-form choir. "It's going to explore issues with women and leadership, but music is the tool."

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