Songbirds fly South

Published 11:04 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s upper school chorus performs at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts Wednesday. The performance was a good warmup for the students’ appearance in Walt Disney World’s Candlelight Processional next week.

NSA chorus to perform at Disney

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy upper school chorus has a magical trip lined up for next week.

About 50 students from eighth through 12th grades in the school will be traveling to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., to participate in the theme park’s Candlelight Processional. The Christmas event runs from the day after Thanksgiving through Dec. 30.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity,” said Toni Cotturone, the choral director at the academy. “It’s a different feel than doing a concert within a concert hall. They see a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes.”

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The students will perform in the processional on Dec. 17. The days before and after, they will be able to visit theme parks in Orlando.

The students have been practicing nonstop for the show since the end of August, Cotturone said. She sent an audition DVD in the spring and learned in August the group had been accepted.

“We’ve been singing Christmas music since August,” she said. “Disney wants this up to their standards of performance, so we need to be ready for it.”

The chorus also performed in the Candlelight Processional five years ago, when many of the students currently in the chorus were too young for the upper school chorus.

“That’s exactly why I do it that way,” she said.

The NSA students will join singers from high schools across America during their two performances that night. The show also includes a large orchestra, celebrity narrator and professional singers from Disney.

The celebrity narrator on the night of NSA’s performances will be Thomas Gibson, an actor who stars in the CBS series Criminal Minds. He also starred on the ABC sitcom Dharma and Greg.

The students are required to have memorized and perfected 15 songs by the time they arrive in Florida, Cotturone said.

“They pull you through the ringer to get you ready for it,” Cotturone said. “It’s just a grand opportunity.”