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High schoolers make Cedar Rapids proud at national show choir championships


Washington High School Momentum, 2017-18. — photo by Struttmann Photo

Carrington Moore is a senior at Cedar Rapids Washington High School. (Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2022 with Moore’s preferred pronouns.) She hopes to travel — either as a nurse practitioner or in Broadway touring companies. She looks to herself for inspiration, always trying to be better than the person she was yesterday.

And she just won a Best Performer award at the 2018 Show Choir Nationals in Nashville, Tennessee — both in the preliminaries and the finals.

“To receive such a high title from something as big as this is something that words can’t really describe,” Moore said of the win in a chat. “I hope it means something to the universities and colleges I applied to, but as for me as a performer? It will always mean everything to me.”

This is Moore’s second year in Washington’s top show choir, Momentum, and her first time competing at nationals. The choir, which has been around for several decades and has earned accolades in the past as well, traveled to Nashville last weekend to compete. Along with choirs from across the country, they were joined by Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School’s Happiness Inc. The two Cedar Rapids choirs were the only two groups representing Iowa at the competition.

For a small city with two such skilled choirs, one would expect the rivalry to be tense. But, Momentum’s assistant director Jay Burken told Little Village in a chat, although a rivalry exists, the support is stronger.

“Both groups sat in the front rows to cheer for each other,” Burken said. “There were chants of ‘Cedar Rapids,’ ‘I-O-W-A’ and ‘319’ both in prelims and finals. Even though Kennedy narrowly missed finals, they still woke up really early to cheer for us.”

Although Happiness Inc. didn’t move on to the final round with Momentum, they had their own success in preliminaries. Kennedy student Alex Young won Outstanding Male Soloist.

Also in the preliminaries, Momentum’s band won Outstanding Combo (although it did not take the honor in finals).

Competition was stiff, Burken said. “This year was definitely the deepest field we have seen here. Nine of the 12 groups have won Grand Championships this year. We were seeing the top groups from Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, the South and New England. The uniqueness and diversity of the lineup made it an even more difficult competition.”

Momentum ultimately took sixth place in the finals competition. Their set list included “Fantasy,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Cells Planets,” “Well Run Dry,” “We Can Party” and “Atom Bomb.” Burken said that the judges, in awarding Moore, specifically mentioned her performance on “Fly Like an Eagle.”

Burken has worked with Momentum for six years, both in his current capacity and, earlier, as an assistant choreographer. This is his third time taking the choir to nationals as a leader — but he went once before with them, when he performed in the choir as a teen himself.

“In order to win an award like Carrington won, in a competition this deep and talented, you have to be on for the entire show,” Burken said of Moore. “Which Carrington always is.”

Burken and Moore have performed together in the past, in Theatre Cedar Rapids’ production of Sister Act (2016).

Moore “always had an extremely positive attitude,” Burken said, and “did an amazing job, while being by far the youngest in the cast.” Seeing Moore recognized for her performance ability and dedication “is so special, as a director and a theater friend,” he added.

Moore hopes to minor in musical theatre when she gets to college, and there’s no doubt she’ll be performing for a long time to come.

“There’s something about performing and being on stage that brings a certain contentment to my heart and soul,” Moore said. “It’s the joy of making an impact on someone’s life by doing what I love. It’s seeing the smiles on peoples faces that pushes me wanting to perform more, because of the weight of everything is gone for the span of time they are there at the performance. I love performing and there’s nothing else in this world I would rather do.”


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