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FOX 4 Young Achiever gives command performances

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BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. -- The eyes of the basketball world may be on places like Kansas City and Nashville Wednesday night -- but the eyes and ears of the countless people who enjoy great vocal music are squarely set on Dallas.

The American Choral Directors Association national conference is underway there and it's national youth honor choirs will perform. And among those honored singers is this week's Fox 4 Young Achiever.

Seligheit, a song by Schubert, is no easy piece to perform but with her beautiful voice and superb technique, soprano Whitney Wrestler sure makes it seems that way. It is the song Whitney used in her audition to win her way onto the American Choral Directors Association national high school women's honor choir, a prize Whitney has been focused on ever since getting hooked on choral music in middle school.

"It's just been a dream of mine, actually," says Whitney. "I started making these goals. I wanted to be in national honor choir at least one point in my life so 11th grade let me try out for that finally and I made it."

Earning a place on an ACDA honor choir is rigorous and highly competitive. And it is a pinnacle for young singers like Whitney who are devoted to choral music and driven to excel in it.

"A lot of it, I think, is just natural talent and training," says Whitney. "That's part of it for anybody that's in anything. But it's also just plain hard work."

Whitney sings on one of the top choirs at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kan., where she is a junior. And she is a stellar member of Brio, the advanced women's group at Allegro Choirs of Kansas City, a private program for instruction and performing located in Bonner Springs, Kan.

"With Whitney there is no such thing as 'good enough.'," says Gretchen Harrison, one of the directors at Allegro. Harrison got Whitney started in choral music when she was in 7th grade.

"And she is never one of those kids," says Harrison, "who you ever have to say, 'Whitney, give me more. We need more from you. You're not pulling your weight.' She's the one who sets the standard and shows us on a daily basis that more is always possible."

The opportunity to sing in the honor choir for the ACDA national conference is not the first time Whitney has been in the national spotlight. She and several others from Allegro's Brio group got to sing at the White House in December.

"It was a shock to everyone," says Whitney with a laugh about getting the news of the invitation in November. They quickly perfected 18 a cappella holiday songs and performed them as guests arrived for a holiday reception at the White House.

"It was awesome," says Whitney about the experience. "I don't even know who I was seeing there. Politicians. Famous people." And during a break they got a request from the President and First Lady to sing personally for them. They did Joy to the World.

"Just so joyful," says Whitney of signing for Mr. and Mrs. Obama. "We were in the moment. I couldn't believe what was going on. And we just went with the flow."

And last spring Whitney sang with Allegro's Brio Choir at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall, phenomenal experiences leading Whitney to what she hopes will be a lifetime of making great choral music.

"I just love the feeling," says Whitney of singing in a top notch choir. "It's just my absolute passion. I love doing what I do and being up there making the audience smile, cry, whatever it may be."

Pam Williamson, Whitney's choir teacher at Olathe Northwest High sent us a comment about Whitney, praising her for her passion for excellence and dedication to doing her best. Williamson knows more than a little something about that. She sings with the Kansas City Choral which won a Grammy Award for choral music last month.

When Whitney returns from Dallas, she'll jump right back into rehearsals with Allegro Choirs for their spring concert at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

You can listen to these terrific young singers there the evening of Saturday, April 14. CLICK HERE for ticket information. And Allegro Choirs will have auditions for young people to join its various choirs for elementary, middle and high school students. To find out about auditions, VISIT HERE.

Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.

Send an email to Phil: Phil.Witt@wdaftv4.com

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