Broadway Masterclass

Written By Taylor Ward

Last year, the CG Choirs went to Broadway. This year, Broadway came to the CG Choirs.

On Friday, Feb. 24, New York actor and musician Kyle Riabko visited Center Grove to conduct a masterclass and Q&A with the students. Riabko kicked off the afternoon by singing a few songs by Burt Bacharach, composer of famous songs such as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” and “Close to You.” The Broadway performer accompanied himself on guitar.

The actor and singer’s performance credits are numerous, including a lead role in the original Broadway cast of Spring Awakening, a major role on Broadway in Hair and a recurring appearance on the hit TV show 90210.


Broadway performer visits CG Choir

Riabko was brought in through an organization called The Cabaret. Located in downtown Indianapolis, The Cabaret brings in Broadway stars and working musicians to perform songs and monologues at their venue in the city. Recently, the organization has been seeking to provide local musically-inclined students with an opportunity to meet and learn from real, working show business professionals. Their mission: “to elevate and promote the cabaret art form by presenting the finest in professional cabaret performances and developing the next generation of cabaret artists.”

After singing for the students, Riabko sat back and watched CG Sound System perform a number from their competition show. Once they had finished, he was highly complimentary, saying, “now I understand the wall of trophies.”

A couple of students also performed their own solo songs, including senior Adrianna Goss. Singing “Vanilla Ice Cream” from the musical She Loves Me, Goss said that “it was cool to show him some of the talent that makes up CG choirs.”

The excitement did not come without its nerves, however.

“I was a little nervous because I had seen him in one of my favorite TV shows, 90210,” said Goss.

Mr. Riabko provided plenty of performance advice to the choirs, but perhaps his biggest point to the students was this: “Always be performing. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, keep performing. It’s a gift you have to share with the world.”

Student Arranges Music For CG Choirs For First Time in CG History

By: Taylor Ward

Photography: Noah Barajas

Wilson Smith sings a solo at a choir competition. While Smith has not been able to perform at every show this year, he has found another way to make sure he is involved year-around in his passion.

Wilson Smith sings a solo at a choir show. Smith now works behind the scenes for choir productions to make them the best that they can be.

Many students involved in Center Grove’s performing arts program participate in behind-the-scenes preparation for productions, such as building sets, assembling risers and crafting costumes. But no student has ever helped with the actual creation of the show’s content, like writing scripts or arranging music…until now.


Wilson Smith, a junior, holds the distinction of being the first student at Center Grove to help arrange music for the choral program. Until this year, the sheet music for each song was put together by staff members. Now, Smith assists choir directors Jenn Dice and Jared Norman and the principle accompanist and arranger Greg Sanders with compositions.


“My job is to write the different voice parts for the choir,” Smith said. “I look at the melody line and try to figure out different harmony parts that support the melody line and create one really awesome sound.”


Smith helps arrange music for all of the high school choirs, including competition music, which is kept secret from choir members until the directors decide to reveal it. Despite this special knowledge, he is not involved in song selection.


“I just do what Mr. Sanders and/or Mrs. Dice tells me,” Smith said. 


The process of arranging music is multi-layered, and requires preparation before it can really begin.


“The first step in arranging or rearranging a song is to create a roadmap. Basically, a roadmap is to an arrangement as an outline is to an essay. I try to put all of my ideas onto a piece of paper, organize them, and work from there,” Smith said.


As involved as he is in the process, Smith says that much of the arranging is still done by staff member Greg Sanders.


“I sort of serve as his apprentice,” Smith said. “I still have a lot more to learn about music theory.”


Smith says that his favorite piece to help arrange is Sound System’s second competition number, “The World Turned Upside Down,” a medley of songs from the Tony award winning Best Musical Hamilton.


Smith also holds another special distinction in the choral music program at Center Grove; he is the only student with “perfect pitch.” This allows him to immediately know how each pitch sounds, so he can give starting notes to the choir.

“It definitely makes it easier to arrange, read, and understand music,” Smith said about his ability.


The gift is rare. Some studies show that only one out of every ten thousand people hold the ability to hear pitches without error. Smith uses his gifts to assist the choir directors as best he can.


CG Choirs Present Spring Spec

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Like the Christmas Show, Spring Spec. will represent all choirs.

By Madey Jacks and Jessica Richardson

Photos courtesy of Center Grove Choirs


The Center Grove Choral Department is preparing for the Spring Spectacular. Although the show is a Center Grove tradition, the department is adding more performances. The show will be performed at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 12.


“We’re doing the same show, so it’s not necessarily more work in terms of preparation, but the show itself is much bigger than what we have done in the past,” choir director Jennifer Dice said.

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Taylor Ward is playing “The Scarecrow”

Producing a show on a larger-than-normal scale hasn’t completely changed the choirs’ approach, but it has demanded more of the participants.


“There are more intricacies and a little more effort,” Dice said. “It’s just more involved than what we normally do.”


In addition to organizing and planning the on-stage movements, students’ costumes became a concerted effort.


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Sophomore Melanie Shea in Surround Sound will be playing Dorothy.

“Some students got together and went thrift store shopping to find some Ozian looking costumes and others planned way ahead or order costumes online,” junior Ciara Phillips said. “The best things about trying to find your costume separate is waiting to see it come all together days before the show.”


The students have seized their roles to allow them to find joy in the small components of their roles .

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Isaac Evans

Surround Sound member Isaac Evans will be playing the guard at the gates of the Emerald City.


“Being the guard is a lot of fun; I get to be in every number while being a character, also I get to have a cane which is sweet,” freshman Isaac Evans said.


The show has given the choirs to take an experience from New York and share it with the Center Grove Community.


“We’re doing a bigger show because it’s fun,” Dice said.”We went and saw ‘Wicked’ in New York City with all of the varsity kids this year so all of them have seen that part.”


Holding the performance on two nights has allowed the choir to double the potential number of people that can see the Spring Spec.


“There are still going to be seats for both of them, but you’re not going to be sitting in the middle section,” Dice said of ticket sales. “We’ve got a majority [out of 1169 seats in the Performing Arts Center] for both nights.”
The show has currently sold about 1200 tickets between the two showings. Reserved seating is being sold online at

Center Grove HS Show Choirs Sweep Awards

Indianapolis, IN March 8, 2016 – The Center Grove varsity show choirs and concert choir all came away top finishers at the North Central Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference at North Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana on Saturday, March 5th.  Congratulations to The Debtones for winning Grand Champion in the Unisex Division, Sound System on winning Grand Champion in the Mixed Division and CG Singers for winning Grand Champion in the Concert Choir Division.

The group’s shows thoroughly entertained the packed auditorium. The Debtones collected caption awards for Outstanding Visual, Outstanding Vocals, and Junior, Sydney Hurst was named Outstanding Performer.  Sound System received awards for Outstanding Visual, Outstanding Vocals and Senior, Elyse Haskell won Outstanding Performer.

Center Grove’s Concert Choir, CG Singers also was awarded Grand Champion for their Outstanding Vocals in the Concert Choir Division.

The Center Grove choirs are directed by Jennifer Dice and Jared Norman, choreographed by Andy Haines, and accompanied by Greg Sanders.  Center Grove Junior Varsity and Varsity Show Choirs will be performing at their last competition this Saturday, March 12th at Shelbyville High School.  Please visit for more information.

For additional information, contact Jennifer Dice,, Jared Norman or Renee Skipper, CGHS Music Department Secretary, 881-0581 ext. 4190.

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CG Choirs Dominate Edgewood Competition

Photos and Story provided by CG Choir Publicity Department

Center Grove Debtones and Sound System named Grand Champions


Ellettsville, IN February 6, 2016 – The Center Grove varsity show choirs swept the awards at the 23rd Annual Contest of Champions at Edgewood High School in Ellettsville, Indiana on Saturday, February 6th.  Congratulations to The Debtones for winning Grand Champion in the Unisex Division and Sound System on winning Grand Champion in the Mixed Division.


The group’s brand new shows thoroughly entertained the packed gymnasium. The Debtones collected caption awards for Outstanding Visual, Outstanding Vocals, and Senior, Nicki Meyer was named Outstanding Performer.  Sound System received awards for Outstanding Vocals.  Sophomore, Sarah Anderson won Best Female Soloist in the mixed show and Senior, Katie Swaney was named Outstanding Performer.


The Center Grove choirs are directed by Jennifer Dice and Jared Norman, choreographed by Andy Haines, and accompanied by Greg Sanders.  All Center Grove Junior Varsity and Varsity Show Choirs will perform at the Franklin Community Showfest this Friday, February 12th and Saturday February 13th at Franklin High School.  Please visit for more information on upcoming competitions and shows.


The Debtones

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Sound System