The walls of the Carnegie Library Museum and rooms of the Hotel Pattee echoed with many voices Monday afternoon as 39 members of the Heartland Youth Choir toured the historical landmarks in downtown Perry prior to their evening performance at the Perry Performing Arts Center.
With 160 singers from 15 Iowa counties, the Des Moines-based Heartland Youth Choir draws students from a 90-mile radius of the capital, according to Lynette Rasmussen, one of four chaperones for the Perry tour. Two Perry Middle School students, Madyson Hill and Beau Nelson, qualified in tryouts for places in the 2015 choir and sang Monday night.
Beau’s mother, Jenn Nelson, Perry High School choir director, was also a chaperone for Monday’s downtown visit. Nelson is finishing her first year at the high school after six years leading the Perry Middle School choir.
Carnegie Library Museum volunteers Katie Schott and Phil Stone led the tours of the hotel and library, with Schott leading the Cantemus choir of sixth, seventh and eighth graders and Stone shepherding the Chanté group of fourth, fifth and sixth grades.
“Oohs” and “Wows” were heard as the young people first saw the interiors of the Central American room, RAGBRAI/BRR room, Swedish room and Kids room.
“Why don’t my parents love me this much,” said one youngster, feigning tears as she looked at the Swedish room’s decor. Nearly all the little hands were busy with smart phones, snapping pictures of the lavish suites.
Reactions at the Carnegie Library Museum were similarly enthusiastic. The young people seemed especially impressed by the exhibition of musical instruments from the former Perry Municipal Band.
Monday night’s free concert at the Perry Performing Arts Center drew a crowd of about 150 to hear a program of 16 songs by the young choristers, who were warmly received.
The next Perry Fine Arts concert is April 27, when a choir from Saint Petersburg, Russia, will sing a selection of Russian folk songs and sacred songs from the Russian Orthodox Church. The concert will be held in the Perry Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.
Perry Fine Arts concerts, a part of the Perry Cultural District, are free and open to the public. The Perry Performing Arts Center is handicapped accessible.