Morehead State’s annual Choral Festival for high school singers returned after a year-long hiatus. 

The festival celebrated 61 years of choral performances at its return debut over two days this week. Recitals from MSU groups and high school students from nine high schools in Ohio and Kentucky came together to sing to their families. 

“I'm really happy we're back and I got to say this, the MSU choirs, I don't think they’ve sounded better,” said Greg Detweiler, director of Choral Activities. “It was a very moving concert and people who have come back over the years said the concert Monday night was the best it’s ever been.”

The festival began Monday night with performances from MSU Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Jazz Vocal Ensemble and the Black Gospel Ensemble. Tuesday night hosted the performances from over 100 high school students. 

Detweiler said the festival goes further than singing as it plays a significant role in recruiting students for MSU’s music program. 

“One big purpose is to just bring students here and to make music together,” said Detweiler, a native from Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Of course, there's the fact that once we bring students here, a number of them will want to stay here.”

He said most students currently in the music program were drawn in from past choral festivals. 

Festivals in the past consisted of over 400 students from 23 schools but this year’s festival had multiple schools pull out due to COVID-19 concerns. Schools pulling out of the festival nearly made Detweiler cancel the event again.

“We didn’t do it last year and this year things were really shaky at the beginning of the year,” said Detweiler. “Schools started to drop out and every time one dropped out another school would add us but I was about to pull the plug but decided no we can do this.”

Students were excited to return to the stage and perform for a live-audience after two-years of conducting concerts virtually. 

“It felt unreal to be performing again,” said Cassie Stearman, a member of the Concert Choir. “Any performance that choir had was live-streamed from Baird and we didn’t have an audience. That break from music made me take performing a lot more passionately because you never know the next time it could get taken from you again.”