Current and former students of retiring Barrington High School Choral Director Nancie Tobison along with hundreds of her biggest fans packed the Richard C. Johnson auditorium at BHS on Friday night. Alumni came from near and far to participate in a Reunion Concert thanking Nancie for inspiring within them a lifelong love of music.
Nancie Tobison is retiring at the end of this school year after 18 years of teaching music in the Barrington 220 school district. When she accepted the position at Barrington High School she “changed the DNA of the BHS choirs forever”, according to former student Mara Missouri Gajic of the class of 1997. The Barrington Madrigals and Chamber Choir were founded under Nancie’s leadership and she’s been the driving force behind an impressive record of award-winning student performances in competitions around the world.
The Reunion Concert featured a beautiful mix of classical, spiritual, American music and more with solos sung by Nancie’s students from years past. Trophies lined the stage representing many years of these noteworthy performances:
1996 – “When Mrs. Nancie Kozel Tobison took over, she changed the DNA of the BHS choirs forever. That was memorable. We hadn’t yet started the amazing trips you all were able to take later in the years – but we were at the beginning of something great!” Mara Missouri Gajic (class of 1997, currently living in Paris, France)
1997 – Boston Festival – 1st Place of any choir, band or orchestra. Choir won 1st place in each category also.
1998, 2001, 2002, 2004 – Chicago Heritage Festival – 1st Place Choir, every year.
1999, 2000 – Kennedy Center Performance, Festival of Gold
2001 – One of three American Choirs to perform at International Festival in Havana, Cuba
2003 – Verona Festival Italy, 1st American Choir to win the Classical Division. 2006, 2009, repeated at Verona Festival.
2001, 2002, 2004, 2007 – Royal Caribbean Festival at Sea, winning 1st Place multiple times.
2004 – Advent Sing in Prague.
2005 – Royal Academy of Music, London
2006 – Advent Sing in Vienna.
2006 – Voices in the house, Sydney Opera House
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 – White House Performances for Holiday Open Houses
2008 – Cultural Overture to the Beijing Olympics
2010 – United Nations, New York
2011 – Festival of Brotherhood and Peace in Rome, Italy
2012 – Cultural Overture to the London Olympics and featured concert in Scotland
2013, 2014 – Carnegie Hall National Showcase for the top High School Choirs in America. Received Top Ranking
2014 – International Festival in Prague, Concert Tour of Budapest and Vienna.
Numerous performances in major churches and cathedrals all over Europe, the British Isles and America
In the program for her Reunion Concert, Nancie is quoted as having said about her students, “My goal is consistent excellence which is no easy feat today. In my generation, we were vested for the long-term, whereas immediate success is the current expectation.”
I can personally attest to Nancie’s goal of excellence from the days when she was my own piano teacher years ago. My fingers may have long forgotten the notes, but I cherish the melodies to this day along with Nancie’s lasting lesson that the most challenging goals are only met where persistence and patience are present.
If you missed Friday night’s concert, be sure to mark your calendars for Nancie’s retirement party coming up from noon to 5 p.m. at Citizens Park on Sunday, June 8th, 2014.
And here’s a look at the Reunion Concert performers, thanks to these beautiful images captured by Barrington Photographer, Sally Roeckell.