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Singing in success: Powell Middle School choirs flex musical muscles

Hayley Mathis Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 9, 2013 at 09:29 PM

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As the advanced girls chorus practiced Thursday morning in the music room of Powell Middle School, all the pressure was off.

Well, at least for now.

The girls are basking in victory with their fellow choir members, who includes the intermediate girls and mixed choirs, after all three groups received "Superior" ratings for the sixth year in last week's Florida Vocal Association District 5 Choral Music Performance Assessment in Inverness.

Choral Director David Pletincks compared the competition to the musical equivalent of taking the FCAT because each choir had to perform two pieces on stage and two musical exercises without any rehearsal for a panel of judges.

"I'm quite confident this is the most talented choral group I've ever had," said Pletnicks, who has been the director for seven years. "I'm very excited. They work very, very hard."

One of the choral pieces the advanced chorus, which consists of 34 girls ages 11-14, performed was "Dixit Dominus," a Latin text by the 18th century composer Baldessari Galuppi.

Pletnicks said it was the most difficult piece the girls have ever performed and they are consistently performing at a high school level.

"Right off the bat the girls were up to the challenge. They want to do challenging things," he said.

And the success just keeps on coming.

Six of the advanced girls were selected for the Florida All-State Middle School Choirs and out of 150 boys competing in middle school choirs around the state, two of Powell's boys were selected to perform with the Florida Male Honor Choir.

But it's not just luck that's on their side.

Pletnicks said each choir meets with him every day for 50 minutes and can have a song "performance ready" within one week.

Even with the heavy load, Jennifer Munsey, 14, doesn't let the pressure affect her performance.

Munsey, who has been selected for All-State twice, said competitions don't make her nervous because she trusts her fellow performers.

"It takes a lot. You have to know how to sing notes in front of you and sing in four different languages," she said. "You have to know everything about everything. I have confidence in my choir because we work together as a family."

Munsey, who has been singing since she was a little girl, said it's collaboration that helps create a family atmosphere with the choirs, especially with beginners like sixth-grader Kallie Carlton.

Carlton, 12, attributes the choirs' continual success to a combination of teamwork with inspiring direction from Pletnicks.

"Everybody in here is like sisters. I was nervous since it was my first time competing, but I had faith in everybody," she said. "Mr. P, he's so good. He directs really well and he's experienced."

Currently, all three choirs are preparing for upcoming spring concerts and festivals, including the Solo and Ensemble Festival on March 25 at Weeki Wachee High School.

They also have their sights on a return trip to Disney World's Festival Disney in June, where they placed first in the middle school choral category, beating out choirs from Florida, Rhode Island, Alabama and Tennessee.

"Our choral program is very active, so for kids who love to sing, we do a lot of performing. We do a lot of travel," Pletnicks said. "We'll just keep expanding and building."

Reporter Hayley Mathis can be reached at 352-544-5225 or

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