Tuesday, April 25, 2017

WLA Traveling Choir Auditions 2017-2018

It's that time of the year again–audition season! WLA students who are interested in singing with the WLA Traveling Choir can find all audition materials and music on this Google Doc. Sign up for a 15-minute audition on the choir room door. Any questions? Email Mr. Witte at dawitte (at) wlavikings.org.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Lamb of God (2016-2017 WLA Theme Song)

Every year I write a theme song for Winnebago Lutheran Academy students and the students of the WLA Association grade schools which is based on the theme passage of the school year.  This year the theme passage is John 1:29 “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (NIV).

This song tries to teach a couple of key concepts about this passage: (1) God demands blood to pay for sins, as he did throughout the Old Testament, requiring sacrifices from his chosen nation, Israel, for their sins; (2) John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the last sacrifice that God demanded to pay for the world's sins and he pointed everyone to the sinless Lamb of God, the perfect, atoning sacrifice; (3) Everyone in the world still sins every day and we desperately need Jesus' perfect sacrifice of himself to pay for our sins.

Sheet music can be downloaded from Google Drive.

Monday, May 23, 2016

AK A Cappella Auditions 2016-2017

Monday 5/23/16 & Wednesday 5/25/16

Click here for all audition materials (practice tracks and PDFs).

What to prepare for the audition:

  1. Prepare a 30 second solo (unaccompanied) that shows off your voice. Do not sing anything classical (sing pop music, musical theater, songs from radio, etc.)  Prepare like you are auditioning for American Idol.
  2. If you are auditioning as a singer prepare at least TWO parts to the attached excerpts (“Believe” for the guys and "Elastic Heart” for the ladies).  DO NOT prepare the solo part.
  3. If you are auditioning to beatbox ONLY, prepare the vocal percussion part. Please add any other drum patterns/get creative so Mr. Witte can see what you can do.  Listen to the practice tracks in the Google Drive to get an idea of the vocal percussion patterns and sounds.
  4. If you are auditioning for both singing and beatboxing prepare at least ONE vocal part AND the vocal percussion part.
  5. Be prepared to vocalize throughout your range if you have not already auditioned for Traveling Choir

How to prepare for the audition:

Mr. Witte has created practice tracks with recordings of every voice part. To access these tracks and other resources, go to https://goo.gl/lJPAgT to access a Google Drive Folder with all the practice tracks. From there you can download the audio files to your own devices or save the folder to your own Google Drive account. Practice tracks and resources are there for you to use as much as you want. THE MORE YOU PRACTICE WITH THE TRACKS THE FASTER YOU WILL LEARN AND MORE CONFIDENT YOU WILL SING IN YOUR AUDITION.

Monday, May 23, 2016 from 6-8 PM will be the rehearsal night for AK auditions.  On this night procedures will be explained and music will be handed out and rehearsed.

On Wednesday night, May 25, 2016 from 6-8 pm students will audition in groups of three or four. Students may be asked to sing more than once, so plan on being at WLA from 6-8 PM.

How you will audition:

You will be grouped with two or three other people for your audition – all of you will sing the excerpt in different combinations at least twice.  You will be the only person on your voice part. Mr. Witte will make the audition schedule and groups.  The sign up sheet will be on the choir room door.

Expectations of being in Academy Kids A Cappella:

Being a member of AK is a special opportunity and should be taken seriously. Mr. Witte is looking for the following qualities. Do your best to showcase these qualities inside and outside of your audition. Your attitude and work ethic in choir class or other music classes makes an impression on your overall eligibility for these ensembles!

This a cappella group will be singing contemporary music that could include pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, dubstep, and many other genres. The group may include choreography and may require a purchase of specific outfit pieces.

Therefore, as a member of the group, you will make it a priority, and:
  1. Attend all rehearsals (if by your conflict schedule you are not readily available for rehearsals that may be reason for your ineligibility to participate in AK)
  2. Notify Mr. Witte if you will be late or missing for a rehearsal because of athletic practices, games, or other conflicts.  Work is not an acceptable excuse for missing practice.
  3. Participate in all performances and competitions (Choralfest, ICHSA, grade schools, community organizations, churches, etc.  Some may require a travel or participation cost.)
  4. Practice on your own outside of rehearsal
  5. Come prepared to all rehearsals (arrive on time, with music learned)
  6. Have a positive attitude
  7. Take constructive criticism
  8. Put the group before yourself
  9. Be willing to try new things – take risks!
  10. Be a leader
  11. Listen and communicate well
  12. Be ready to work hard
If all members of AK take these expectations to heart, the group will definitely be SUCCESSFUL and FUN! Please see Mr. Witte if you have any further questions or concerns.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016-2017 WLA Traveling Choir Auditions Announced

Students of Winnebago Lutheran Academy who have (1) sung in a WLA choir for one year, and (2) are a sophomore, junior, or senior, and (3) are WELS members are eligible to audition for the 2016-2017 Traveling Choir.  Click here to read the audition document on Google Docs.  In this document are links for all scores, representative Youtube performances, and accompaniment tracks (coming soon).

Click below to download PDF files of all music and materials by voice:

Auditions will be held May 2-6, 2016 in the WLA Choir Room.  Students who are interested in auditioning should sign up for a 15-minute audition time on the door of the Choir Room.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Betelehemu - Origin, Translation, Performance Practice

The song Betelehemu (Babatunde Olatunji, arr. Wendell Whalum) has earned its place in Christmas choral literature over the past two decades ever since Barrington Brooks arranged it for SATB choir and it was published by Lawson-Gould/Warner Bros. in 1994.

Origins (via Choralnet.org on November 23, 1999)

Thanks to all who responded with information about Wendell Whalum's
arrangement of the Nigerian Christmas song "Betelehemu." Though there are
still some sleuths out there working on leads, I think I have enough to piece
together the story.

Babatunde Olatunji was a student at Atlanta's Morehouse College during the
mid-1950s (he came from Nigeria on a Rotary scholarship). Wendell Whalum was
the choir director, and Olatunji gave him "Betelehemu," which Whalum arranged
the way we still hear and perform it today. So, the piece came to Whalum
"Via" (by way of) Olatunji, as is printed in the arrangement (though I have
to say it's a bit confusing, since "Via" is printed to look like the
composer's first name).

What's not clear is whether this was an original piece by Olatunji or simply
a traditional song that Olatunji taught to or transcribed for Whalum. The
latter is probably true, though if I learn more about it, I'll post it to the

If you'd like to know more about Olatunji, there's an entry in the website of
the Encyclopedia of African Music:

Submitted by Frank Albinder, Music Director, Washington Men's Camerata (FSAlbinder(a)aol.com)

Babatunde's Influence on Drumming: (from http://africanmusic.org/artists/olatunji.html)

Baba was the single most important contributor to the popularization of African hand drumming in the United States. Baba created the popular Gun-Dun, Go-Do, Pa-Ta method of learning drum patterns in which these spoken sounds were able to help recall the sounds made on most hand drums -- with the Gun-Dun denoting the bass notes played with right and left hands; the Go-Do denoting the open tones; and the Pa-Ta denoting the slaps. This simple method revolutionized the learning rate for thousands of hand drum students in the West.
Baba's Beginner's Drumming Exercises: http://www.rhythmweb.com/baba.htm

Translation (from http://www.musicanet.org/en/texts/00/00075en.htm)

Translation of "Betelehemu"
(Olatunji, Via) - arr. Wendall Whalum
We are glad that we have a Father to trust.
We are glad that we have a Father to rely upon
Where was Jesus born?
Where was He born?
Bethlehem, the city of wonder.
That is where the Father was born for sure.
Praise, praise, praise be to Him.
We thank thee, we thank Thee, we thank Thee for this day,
Gracious Father.
Praise, praise, praise be to Thee,
Merciful Father.