ARLINGTON, Tenn. (AP) — Choir students at Arlington High School are preparing for a performance unlike any they've given before.
Next year they'll have a chance to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II with performances in Normandy, France.
The weeklong event also will commemorate the 76th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allies invaded German-occupied France and began the liberation of Europe.
"Music is the universal language," said Madilynn Gomez, a junior. "Even though I probably won't be able to understand what they're saying to me and they won't understand what I'm saying to them, we can still connect and bond over what we sing together."
The plan is to take about 40 members of the Arlington High School Vocal Music Department, led by Director Jeffrey Chipman, and about 20 adults on the June 2020 trip. The invitation came from the Historic Programs, a nonprofit sponsored by the History Channel.
There, students will be showcased in several performances, including the D-Day Anniversary Parade in the French village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first village to be liberated by American troops. They also will perform at ceremonies at the St. James American Cemetery and the Normandy American Cemetery and will be featured in a performance at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.
Chipman said he had a similar experience when his college alumni choir toured Normandy and the American cemeteries.
"It really is being part of a historical event that helps these kids take what they've learned from all these years in high school and put it in a real context," Chipman said.
Chipman isn't entirely sure how his choir was chosen for the invitation — and he doesn't know of others in the area going. Two years ago, they performed at their state music conference, and Chipman believes organizers saw their name and viewed some of their performances online before inviting them to Normandy.
Students have started to prepare for their performances and will soon start the arduous task of fundraising. Chipman estimates the trip will cost about $3,200 per student. Some students are taking on part-time jobs, but they hope to also receive support from the business community and others to mitigate that cost.
Kendall Robinson, a junior, said the trip will be a great way to close out his four years of high school.
"I just want to experience other cultures, a chance to travel to another country. You can't exchange that for anything else," Robinson said. "Everything is so different when it's a firsthand experience, when you're standing on the ground where soldiers were running."
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com
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