Music video of children's choir singing 'Shenandoah' in Shenandoah National Park goes viral

Published: Sep. 29, 2016 at 5:27 PM EDT
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On September 12, the Shenandoah National Park shared a video of the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir singing “Shenandoah” in the park. Since that time, the video has been viewed nearly 190,000 times and has been shared by 4,136 people on Facebook.


The 3.5-minute music video was part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the National Park Service. On June 20, the choir, a program of Eastern Mennonite University, performed at the park's Byrd Welcome Center as part of the "Sing Across America" project.

Scroll to the bottom of this article and you can watch the video, either on Facebook or Youtube.


“We thought it would be fun to create a video that would showcase their work and that iconic song in the beauty of the park,” said Claire Comer, a park ranger and interpretive specialist in the media department.

Janet Hostetter, the choir’s artistic director, added emphasis on the repetition: “I suggested the idea of the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir singing ‘Shenandoah’ in the Shenandoah National Park.”

She used an arrangement by Mark Patterson of the old American folk song.

Production of the music video took place over a four-day period before the choir’s concert at the park. First, the choir—with pianist Maurita Eberly and violinist Tara Davis—made an audio recording of “Shenandoah” in a Harrisonburg studio.

The following day, the concert choir traveled to a scenic overlook along the famed Skyline Drive to record the video. Park media staff Neal Lewis and Brett Raeburn were videographers and editors.

Gary Kerlin, of Gary’s Pianos in Harrisonburg, donated the use of a Baldwin grand piano. “It baked in the sun for four hours and needed extensive re-turning later,” said Hostetter.

Soloist Augusta “Gussie” Nafziger and five other singers returned to the park the next day for more filming and recording.


Since the video project and the concert were organized after the concert choir's 2015-16 calendar had been set, about one-third of the members had conflicts and were not able to participate, said Hostetter. But all the choristers and their families seem thrilled about the experience.

One parent shared the video with a friend in an airport lobby. Soon the lobby became quiet as people heard the video and began exclaiming, “How beautiful,” “Who is that?” and “They sound like angels!”

Meanwhile, back at the park, Superintendent Jim Northup viewed the video alone in his office for the first time. “It made me cry,” he admitted later. “It is magnificent!”

In addition to posting on Facebook and the Shenandoah National Park website, the video will be used for other educational and promotional purposes. “We do lots of this type of work in-house,” said Comer.


SVCC, founded at EMU by Julie White in 1991, has grown to include more than 160 children in three auditioned performing choirs and two non-auditioned early elementary classes. Hostetter became artistic director two years ago. SVCC’s fall concert will be Nov. 20 at EMU, performing alongside the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra.


You can learn far more about the Shenandoah National Park's centennial celebration in the Related Stories section of this article.

"Shenandoah" - Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir

Nature has inspired creatively-driven artists for thousands of years and our Blue Ridge Mountains are no different! That's why we wanted to film the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir while they performed "Shenandoah" within the grandiose setting of Shenandoah National Park. While they sang amidst the natural beauty, it was incredible to see the eyes light up of those artists who are the next generation of park advocates and supporters. We hope you enjoy watching this as much as they enjoyed creating it. Thank you to all who were involved in this project! #NPS100 #FindYourPark

Posted by Shenandoah National Park on Monday, September 12, 2016