Group is led by PHS graduate and award-winning musical director, Brandon Strou –
By Patricia Beech –
The renowned Cibola High School Symphonic Choir (from Yuma, Arizona), under the direction of Peebles native Brandon Stroup, kicked off their Ohio tour on Tuesday, May 29 at the Wesleyan Tabernacle in Locust Grove.
The 50-member student choir performed an eclectic selection of musical numbers from South Africa, Haiti, and Mexico, as well as 19th century spirituals, American folk songs, and musical performances in Latin.
Stroup is a graduate of Peebles High School, class of 2000. He began his teaching career at North Adams High School before accepting his current position at Cibola where he has won multiple prestigious awards for his work.
In 2013 he was named Cibola High School Teacher of the Year, and has been nominated for the Yuma County Teacher of the Year four times.
Prior to Cibola, Stroup was choir director at Phoenix’s Central High School where his advanced choir was invited to sing the National Anthem for President Barack Obama.
He credits his mother Vicki for encouraging him to pursue his interest in music.
“I’ve always been very interested in music, and after my Mom practically begged her to teach me, I was given piano lessons from Carolyn Freeze during high school,” Stroup told The People’s Defender. “She always pushed me to do my absolute best, and also encouraged me to major in music in college. When I visit Ohio, we still get together to play piano duets, or she’ll accompany me while I sing.”
Stroup was also involved in both choir and band in high school and was a member of the Liberty Cornet Band. He attended the Conservatory of Music at Capital University and was a Vocal Music Education major, studying both piano and voice.
“Growing up in Adams County is something for which I am very thankful,” he said. “After I graduated from college, I even moved back to the area. It was a difficult decision to move to the other side of the country, but did what I felt was right for my life.”
While in Ohio, Stroup’s choral group will sight see, attend a choral workshop at Capital University, and perform at various church venues in Columbus, Cincinnati and parts of southern Ohio.
Stroup says he limits the groups venues to churches because “they’re really nice places to sing.”
Under his direction, the Cibola High School Choral Department has experienced remarkable success, growing by 300% during his ten years at the school.
The program, numbering nearly 300 students, includes a Beginning Choir, a Men’s Chorus, a Women’s Chorus and a Symphonic Choir (the most advanced ensemble).
The personnel within the department is comprised of students involved in every sport and nearly every club offered at Cibola.
According to Stroup, the students have gained a solid reputation in the Yuma area, enjoying capacity audiences at all of their on and off-campus concerts.
“On average, nearly 5,000 tickets are sold throughout the school year for our concerts,” Stroup said. “The choir students also participate in the Yuma County Choir Festival and consistently receive superior ratings.”
The Symphonic Choirs past performance tours include New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Ohio, Hawaii and San Francisco. Next year, Stroup says the choir plans to travel to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.