Now that the applause has died down, let’s change focus just a bit. Sure – for those 45 kids from the Indianapolis Children's Choir who took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to sing the national anthem with Kelly Clarkson at Super Bowl XLVI – it was an experience of a lifetime. I was extremely proud of how the singers handled the rehearsals, the attention, the performance. However, I was just as proud of the singers who couldn’t be there. They handled the disappointment with a maturity beyond their years.
A little back story: There cannot be any doubt that the two conductors who took the field – ICC founder and artistic director Henry Leck and assistant artistic director Josh Pedde – would have wanted their full choirs out there on the 50-yard line. However, the NFL requested 45 singers – no more, no less. Singers from two of the ICC advanced choirs – Bel Canto and Cantantes Angeli – were selected based in large part on their stature. Super Bowl organizers wanted singers that were up to the task musically, but they also wanted singers who looked as young as possible. (Kelly Clarkson isn’t very tall; even in heels. I imagine the sight of little children gathered around the main attraction was what the organizers were trying to conjure up.)
The anthem singers handled their opportunity of a lifetime with artistic excellence second to none, but ALL of the singers are a shining example of the best of what music education offers a child – confidence, discipline, and grace.
There was a palpable reticence in the air on their regular Monday rehearsal the evening after the big game. In one of the choir rooms, a young singer who did not perform on the world’s largest stage said: “Can we clap for the kids who got to do it?” Bravo to them all.