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Honorable young musicians

Kenny Potter from Wingate University directs the state high school boys honor choir Friday during practice at Winthrop University. Below, the middle school girls choir rehearses for today's 3 p.m. performance at Byrnes Auditorium.
Kenny Potter from Wingate University directs the state high school boys honor choir Friday during practice at Winthrop University. Below, the middle school girls choir rehearses for today's 3 p.m. performance at Byrnes Auditorium.

Hours of practice in school, community or church choirs will pay off for 300 middle and high school singers today when they come together for South Carolina's American Choral Directors Association's honor choirs, hosted by Winthrop University.

"It's a really big honor," said Jessica Blackwell, a York Comprehensive High School junior participating in the choir for the third time. "It gives me a great sense of pride that I've accomplished something like this. It feels really good."

The annual choirs bring together top-notch singers from middle and high schools across the state. Participants practice with guest conductors and then perform for the community.

Fifteen high schoolers and four junior high students from the York school district will participate, said Phil Suggs, choral director at York Junior High and York Comprehensive High School. York is the only local district participating this year, Suggs said.

Katherine Kinsey, president of the South Carolina chapter of the ACDA, said the honor choirs give participants a chance to practice music at a level they likely wouldn't be able to achieve in their home groups.

"The journey to get to the performance is more important than the performance itself because people have to work together," Kinsey said. "It's definitely a team effort. There's so much work that goes into making high-level music."

Participating in the honor choirs also can benefit the students' school choirs.

"They get a new experience, with a different director, in a really good choir," Suggs said. "And they usually come back really excited about the experience and want to work hard and inspire their classmates to get better so they can maybe make a future honor choir."

• What: South Carolina's American Choral Directors Association honor choir performances

• When: 3 p.m. today

• Where: Byrnes Auditorium on the campus of Winthrop University

• Cost: Free

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