The New Richmond High School Troubadours were honored by Mayor Ramona Carr and council members at their May 10 meeting.
Carr presented a plaque to six representatives from the 119-member choir and congratulated them on receiving gold in a national competition.
“We’re very proud of you,” Carr said.
The Troubadours are part of New Richmond School District’s expansive music program that has hundreds of students singing each year. And now, thanks to the Troubadours, the district holds a national title.
“I’ve got to tell you New Richmond is not a large place,” said Douglas Heflin, director of vocal music at New Richmond High School. “But to be able to produce a choir that could go and compete with other choirs, we just think that is really special.”
The Troubadours traveled March 31 to April 3, to compete at the Heritage Music Festival in Annapolis, Md. But that wasn’t all the 119-person choir did on the trip. They sang the National Anthem at its birthplace, the Fort McHenry National Monument, and performed at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel.
“We wanted to take advantage of the time, the opportunity,” Heflin said. “It is not that easy getting so many kids to do so many things, we tried to take advantage of that.”
It also wasn’t easy funding a trip for 119 students. The trip cost more than $70,000 and Heflin said not a penny came out of school funding. Students sold candy bars, did restaurant fund-raisers, received donations from local businesses, and anything else they could do to make it happen.
“We also did everyone goes or no one goes,” Heflin said. “We figured out a way to provide enough scholarship. If it wasn’t that way I wouldn’t take trips.”
The Troubadours performed as a mixed choir and split into male and female choruses to compete at the festival. The mixed choir, which Heflin said was the focus of the competition, sang three songs including one written by New Richmond senior Krista Loose, which Heflin wrote music for and scored.
The mixed choir received a gold medal in the national competition, with the women’s chorus and men’s chorus also earning gold and silver respectively.
“It was overwhelming,” said Sarah Glenn, a sophomore Troubadour. “When we won the feeling was insane, we didn’t expect it.”
And while Heflin said he was pleased with the win, he also took a second to sit back and watch the reactions of the choir members.
“You talk to kids all the time about the importance of working hard and setting goals,” Heflin said. “It was really watching the kids enjoy the fruits of their labor. It was fun to sit back and watch them enjoy.”
Heflin also said that because of the rating and score the Troubadours received at the competition they were invited to attend the national finals, called the Festival of Gold, which is held in New York City.
“The invitation to compete at that level is quite an honor,” Heflin said.
Despite the invitation, Heflin said he does not plan to attend the festival at this time because it is an expensive trip.
He said he is grateful for everything the community has already done for the Troubadours and is also happy to have so many students participating in the music program.
“This is the time schools are cutting their music programs and struggling,” Heflin said. “We are trying to make it as inclusive as possible for kids to be exposed to music.”