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• Video Below: "You Are the Fearless Rose"
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Some wept openly. Others clasped each others' hands for support.
But mostly the members of Millard South High School varsity choir steadied themselves amid the raw emotion in the school auditorium Tuesday night and sang their hearts out.
The choir made history performing a brand new song commissioned and composed in memory of their beloved assistant principal Vicki Kaspar.
The gutty performance of “You Are the Fearless Rose” sparked an extended standing ovation from the capacity crowd, many of whom also wiped away tears.
Eleven of Kaspar's relatives attended the first public performance of the four-minute piece composed by former Omahan Z. Randall Stroope as a tribute to Kaspar, who was shot to death by a student Jan. 5.
Junior choir member Britny Doane, 17, said she was proud the choir fought through the emotion and delivered.
Choir members took the song seriously, practiced hard and were ready to perform, she said, but the emotions of the moment caught her off guard.
“That moment, I knew I was going to cry, but I didn't expect I was going to cry so much,” Doane said.
Kaspar's son, Ron, a teacher at Millard South, described the song as “a wonderful piece of music” that can serve to inspire others in difficult times.
“It reminds you just how wonderful and how passionate the kids are about music and performing,” he said.
Vicki Kaspar's husband, Ron, also in attendance, said the performance moved him to tears.
“I just think it's awesome,” he said. “Words can't express.”
The idea for a tribute song originated with choir members and their director, Jason Stevens.
They wanted to create an enduring memorial to Kaspar, described by colleagues, friends and family as a strong but fair disciplinarian, and a loving wife, mother and friend who cared for others before herself.
Stevens contacted Stroope, whose compositions are popular fare for high school choirs around the country.
Stroope, 57, taught choral music at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1987 to 2006 before moving to Stillwater, Okla., where he directs vocal and choral studies at Oklahoma State University.
Stevens said the next step for the choir will be to get the composition published, which will make it available to choirs across the country.
If that happens, “her message, her life, will be told all around the world,” he said.
The choir raised nearly $1,000 more than the price of the commission, which Stevens said would be donated to the Vicki Kaspar Scholarship Fund. The choir is selling recordings of the piece and donating proceeds to the fund.
Like other Stroope compositions, “You Are the Fearless Rose” starts with great poetry and text, Stevens said.
The text comes from a poem written by Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th century poet, called “Gone to the Unseen.”
Video: "You Are the Fearless Rose"