McNary High School’s fine arts department has a new CD out featuring the Celtic choirs, band and orchestra. Copies are available at McNary and Uptown Music. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

McNary High School’s fine arts department has a new CD out featuring the Celtic choirs, band and orchestra. Copies are available at McNary and Uptown Music. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The new McNary High School CD is a double-disc affair featuring not only choirs but the band and orchestra, too.

“It was nice to have the band and orchestra included because we did so well last year,” said violinist Emily Wade.

The new release, available at the high school, Uptown Music, Big Town Hero and Willamette Music Company features 18 tracks by the Celtic choirs, three by the orchestra, three by the band and two tracks of classical guitar by McNary grad Megan McLoughlin. Music for the CD was recorded over the past two years.

For the choir members, many of whom are taking part in their second or third CD release, recording brings on challenges that they don’t face when performing live or simply practicing.

“Most of us don’t even wear shoes when we’re recording because any of the sounds the risers make get picked up by the mics. It’s really stressful. I don’t even breathe between songs,” said senior Emily Hickman.

Recording the music ups the ante for all the participants, said senior Dylan Bunten.

“This requires a whole new level of concentration and focus because you have to get it perfect in a limited number of takes,” he said.

Iris Scoffee said Ave vernum corpus, a Mozart piece, was her favorite of the ones included on the album.


“I love the way it sounds and the raw, strong emotion behind it,” she said.

Be Still, a track composed by McNary grad Jesús Gómez, specifically for the choir, is a favorite of Cheyenne Shoemaker.

Be Still took us so long to get right but, when we do, the room just glows,” Shoemaker said.

That track was also a favorite of Wade’s even though it presented almost all involved with a high learning curve.

“With each individual part it sounds really weird, but with the choir, it’s amazing,” Wade said.

Clarinetist Cassandra Jones said Dum Spiro Spero, by Chris Pilsner, is the high mark for the band members even if recording it caused no small amount of anxiety.

“When you’re live nobody is going to remember that one little sharp note. With the recording, everyone is going to hear it – over and over,” Jones said. “It can drive us nuts because we’re all perfectionists.”

The McNary band, which has been wowing audiences all year with its precision and performances under director Jennifer Bell, seems to have come into its own this year. However, it took a lot of work to get there said clarinetist Shelby Strout.

“We work hard and sound good and we don’t shed blood and tears to make it happen this year,” she said.

Trombonist Hannah Raschko said the surge has been led by a crop of strong soloists.

“We kind of feed off each other. The stronger the individuals get, the stronger all the people around them are getting,” Raschko said.

The McNary orchestra is also coming off a banner year after director Damian Berdakin joined the staff in 2012. After earning high marks in the Seattle Worldstrides Heritage Music Festival, the group competed for a state title for the first time in years.

“Mr. Berdakin makes us feel responsible for what we do and how it contributes to the entire group,” said senior Zach Staley.

Carnavalito, by Gerardo Di Giusto was a favorite for Ryan Lopez.

“Each section gets to show off a little bit of what it can do,” Lopez said.

Having a CD to commemorate that hard work is better than any yearbook, added Hyrum Kohler.

“It’s better because we get to hear what we made last year,” Kohler said.