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Coupeville music displayed at Chautauqua

 Senior Isaac Wacker, left, and junior Evan Chiles pose after the show with their guitars. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Senior Isaac Wacker, left, and junior Evan Chiles pose after the show with their guitars.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Chautauqua assemblies were popular in America until the mid-1920s. They were community gatherings for music, education and preaching. Former president Theodore Roosevelt said that a Chautauqua is “the most American thing in America.”

On the other hand, novelist Sinclair Lewis deemed Chautauquas “nothing but wind and chaff and...the laughter of yokels.”

Coupeville High School’s annual Chautauqua was held Wednesday night. It’s difficult to say whether the show was closer to Roosevelt’s or Lewis’ definition on the Chautauqua spectrum, but one thing is for certain: The crowd was definitely entertained.

This year eight students participated in the Chautauqua performing six acts at the Performing Arts Center. There was a rapper, a video producer and plenty of instrumental musicians in the mix.

The 2010 show was a bit more challenging to plan due to a deadline that quickly approached. Coupeville’s Chautauqua is usually held during homecoming week, and this year the event came early.

“We’ve been working pretty hard on this for about two weeks,” Associated Student Body teacher Michael Western said.

The show was creatively put together. Between the acts the emcees kept the audience’s attention with jokes, costumes and games consisting of fishing pole lamp shade hats, orange peeling competitions and pick-up lines.

Junior Evan Chiles performed two pieces during the show. He’s been playing the acoustic guitar for about three years. He sang “Karma Police” by Radiohead to a crowd of wooing girls and accompanied senior Isaac Wacker as he sang “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. When asked to rate his performance, Evan gave himself four out of five stars.

“There were some vocal problems,” he said, “but I really appreciated the audience’s participation and involvement.”

Isaac also did two musical acts for the audience. He said he’s been interested in music his entire life. He played along with an instrumental band and sang Clapton with Evan. The boys’ Clapton act was put together just before they took the stage.

“Judges be advised, Evan and I chose to do that song about eight minutes ago,” Isaac announced after their relatively smooth performance.

Senior Hunter Hammer and sophomore Brooke Monroe agreed that the best performance of the night was a drum duet by sophomore Austin Parrick and Cody Metlow. The two took first place with their drumming at last year’s Coupapalooza talent event.

“It just sounded cool,” Hammer said.

The Chautauqua winners were announced at an assembly Thursday morning. Austin and Cody took third place, Evan took second place with “Karma Police,” and Carly Kessler took first place with a stop-motion video she produced to “Love Like Woe” by The Ready Sets.

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