When music hits home

BEN VAN MOER, a 2008 Tracy Area High School graduate, is bringing his Tri-Valley High School Chamber Singers to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for a special performance on Jan. 15. Van Moer is shown here addressing the audience during the group’s Fall Concert this past October. Submitted photo

“Catching Up With …” is a periodic feature of the Tracy Area Headlight Herald and is designed to highlight the exploits of Tracy Area High School graduates. If you have a suggestion of someone you think should be included in this feature, email per@headlightherald.com

By Per Peterson

Ben Van Moer has come a long way since singing to himself in an empty St. Mary’s church.

Van Moer today finds himself leading groups of singers as the Vocal Music Director at Tri-Valley Public Schools in South Dakota. And now, in his eighth year in the school district, the 2008 Tracy Area High School graduate is getting his charges ready for a concert that will carry special meaning to him.

On Saturday, Jan. 15, at 3 p.m., Van Moer’s Tri-Valley High School Chamber Singers will perform at a place very near and dear to his heart — St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

“It’s been a dream of mine,” he said. “I keep telling my students, ‘You guys are performing in one of the places I fell in love with vocal music.’ There were many nights I’d be alone in the church, waiting for our youth choir rehearsal, and I’d just be singing to an empty church in the balcony. I hope they get the same excitement of getting to perform in the same space that I did.”

Van Moer addressed his singers that way in hopes that they would understand the importance of their upcoming concert series. He wants them to think of the concerts as more than just normal events.

“I want them to know they really need to focus and really need to put on a good show — show everybody what we have,” he said. “We’re not a huge school; at the state conventions we’re performing at, we’re the smallest school, and we don’t want to be the choir that is outshined. For me, telling them how important these concerts are and bringing them home just adds to the experience.”

Van Moer’s love of music began in the fifth grade when he joined the Tracy Community Children’s Choir. He took part in some sports in elementary school, but by the time he moved over to the high school, his love of music drew him to the place he knew he wanted to be.

“There were little things that happened throughout middle school and high school that just kind of added to that love of music. It all kind of started with that Children’s Choir in elementary school; I had blast with that, and getting to the upper grades, it just kept going.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.