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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Life's a 'Celebration'

Monday, June 28, 2004

Newell teen performer Megan Sievers returns home as her Celebration Iowa troupe plans a 'Spectacular' show

Entertainment for the 26th Annual Star Spangled Spectacular will be kicked off by the Celebration Iowa Singers and Jazz Band on July 3, at 7:15 in the Sunset Park Bandshell.

Celebration Iowa strives to reflect the quality of Iowa's high school music programs by giving a cast of 38 high school students the chance of a lifetime. Brenda Darling, the program's coordinator, says "to work with some of the most talented high school students is a gift... to see them put on such a professional show is rewarding."

The students perform over 30 shows across the state during the summer, after rehearsing for weeks at the Luther College campus in Decorah, Iowa. The group is directed by Dr. Dennis Darling, the director of music education at Luther.

Megan Sievers, who will be a senior at Newell-Fonda this fall, was selected out of a field of over 150 auditioners to take part in the singing and dancing group this summer. "I've wanted to do something like this since I was 3," she said. "I've been waiting my whole life for something like this."

Megan began taking studio dance lessons when she was three, and credits her family's encouragement for her making it into the elite group of musicians.

She is also excited about her chance to shine among area friends and family. "The whole atmosphere is a dream come true. I can't wait to show my hometown crowd what I can do," she said. "At this point, I know I'll be singing one short solo and doing a tap dance during the swing set."

But what her hometown crowd won't see is the grueling three-session-a-day rehearsals the students go through to perfect their talents.

"It's a lot of hard work but everyone makes it fun," Sievers said. "We're usually done by 9:30 at night and our curfew is 11:15. We're busy all day but it doesn't really feel like work. This is what I've dreamed of all my life."

The opportunity given to these young performers is likened to a semester of intensive college music classes, except with more performance opportunities. "With 30 shows, students get very comfortable with performing," said Darling.

The 2004 Celebration Iowa show will open at the Spectacular with a Swing set featuring old-time hits "Sing, Sing, Sing," and "Mood Indigo."

The second set will be a Spanish flavored act highlighting songs and dances from the opera "Carmen."

Finally, the show will end with a Pop set featuring songs originally sung by Chuck Berry, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys. Throughout the entire program, the Celebration Iowa Jazz Band will accompany the singers and perform their own selections.