Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Director Cory Mendenhall and singers rehearse for upcoming trip. Three of the school's five choirs will tour Washington state.

PROVO — When the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels meet at Safeco Field in Seattle April 12, the Provo High School Chamber Singers will be there to welcome them.

Every year choir director Cory Mendenhall takes three of the school's five choirs on tour, but this year they were chosen to sing the National Anthem to open the baseball game. Typically "The Star-Spangled Banner" is sung by a local Seattle group, Mendenhall said.

"We felt brushed off at first," he said.

Once the decisionmakers heard the students' recording, they did an about-face.

"The kids' voices make it come alive," he said. "When you watch their faces, you know they are our future."

The simple, four-part arrangement comes straight out of the hymn book of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with little embellishment except for dynamics. It's the same arrangement the choir sings at local events.

The choir will surround home plate in tuxes and gowns to sing Francis Scott Key's words.

The Concert Choir and the Advanced Women's Ensemble, along with staff and chaperones —about 140 people — get to watch the choir and the game.

With 30 voices, the Chamber Singers is the most advanced group of singers at the high school, said Mendenhall. He calls the Concert Choir the heart of the school's choir program. The Advanced Women's Ensemble has 46 voices.

The tour includes several stops where all choirs get to perform. In a few venues, the choirs are to combine into one large group. Their first stop is for a music clinic at Boise State University in Idaho on April 10, where they work with professor Bruce Browne. Another clinic is scheduled at Seattle Pacific University with another at Shoreline Community College. That afternoon the choirs meet in exchanges with music students at Bishop Blanchett High School and the Total Experience Gospel Choir leading to a concert that evening with the gospel singers and the Rev. Pat Wright.

Tour director Aprel Mendenhall has also scheduled the choirs to sing in St. Mark's Cathedral, visit the Experience the Music Project Museum and sing at an LDS church.

The tour gets students out of the routine so they can focus on their music and meet other musicians, said Cory Mendenhall. Shortly after they return to Provo, the choirs begin festival season.

Andy Hernandez said he is excited to make the trip.

"I love sports and the anthem is really cool," he said. "It's awesome to be able to represent the world, let alone this little school."

"I was so excited," said choir president Leah Robinson. "It's not often you get an opportunity like that."

Her assistant, Luke Rowley said, "It was like, whoa!"

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