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Highlands Youth Ensemble is 'Putting on the Ritz'

staff report • Feb 2, 2013 at 7:19 AM

The Highlands Youth Ensemble — the premier high school choir of the Mountain Empire Children’s Choral Academy — will perform its seventh annual Valentine Cabaret on Feb. 15 at The Charles in Johnson City and again on Feb. 18 at Barter Theatre’s Stage II in Abingdon, Va.

The talented young singers will present “Putting on the Ritz” with a Cabaret show, a dessert reception, a silent auction and gift baskets for raffle.

The dessert reception and silent auction begin at 6:30 p.m., with the show set for 7:30 p.m. at each location.

“This year, treat yourself and your Valentine to the music of Broadway, and enjoy a dessert reception while you peruse our silent auction and raffle items. ‘Putting on the Ritz’ is going to be our best show ever,” said Jane Morison, MECCA’s artistic director. “These young singers are simply terrific, and they are ready to give you a special evening of entertainment.”

Morison also adds that patrons should bring their checkbooks — or cash — for the silent auction/raffle.

“HYE’s Valentine Cabaret is MECCA’s big fundraiser of the year. Our supporters are so generous, both in donations of items to auction and in support of all our programs,” she said. “This year marks MECCA’s 25th anniversary, and our singers have worked extra hard to make this Cabaret more special than ever as we celebrate this milestone.”

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and younger. Seating is limited at both venues, so reservations are recommended.

Having previously participated in the Field Studies International program under the baton of André Thomas, the Highlands Youth Ensemble, one of the choirs of the Mountain Empire Children’s Choral Academy, made its second trip to Carnegie Hall in June 2010 to sing the “Rutter Requiem,” under the baton of John Rutter himself.

The group’s past honors include participation in the International Chamber Choir competition in Pécs, Hungary in 2007, hosting an International Folksong Exchange in 2008 and annually sending singers to National Honor Choirs at the Organization of American Kodály Educators national conference.

This year, 17 HYE singers will travel to Hartford, Conn., to sing in the OAKE National Chamber Ensemble Honor Choir and the National Concert Women’s Choir, making up 20 percent of the National Chamber Ensemble and 10 percent of the National Concert Women’s Choir.

HYE was also invited back to Pécs, Hungary, as honored guests when Pécs received the designation “European City of Culture” in the summer of 2010.

HYE has collaborated with the Symphony of the Mountains and Voices of the Mountains, and has been invited to sing for the Christmas Candlelight Evenings at the Biltmore Estate for the past decade.

For ticket information or to make reservations for the Valentine Cabaret, call (423) 466-2777 or email HYEcabaret@gmail.com.

For more information about MECCA or the HYE, visit www.meccacademy.org.

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