Choir Showcase Format Changed

Amanda Young, Staff Writer

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Chamber choir hosted a special Academy period performance in the gym on January 26. Known as the a cappella showcase, it has been a tradition for over 20 years.  Due to the new block schedule however, this was the 1st year that the entire student body did not attend.

According to choir director Mark Roberts, only students who signed up through the Academy period online application were able to attend.  In past years the school day was adjusted to allow for 2 assemblies, with half the student body attending the 1st and the other half attending the 2nd.

“It’s not changing the concert; it’s changing the audience, because not everybody now gets to attend,” said Roberts, “That’s been frustrating, and I know that some of my colleagues have been frustrated on my behalf because they liked that the whole student body would get to come see it, and now it’s restricted to a smaller subset.”

While the new format required the vocalists to perform only once, some were nostalgic for the double assembly.

“It was kind of weird,” said senior Kat Daniel, who performed at the concert and is in her 2nd year as a member of the Chamber Singers. “It was a little less exhausting because there was one less performance, but it was definitely disappointing.”

The Academy showcase had capacity for 600 students.

The showcase was also performed for students at Rheem Elementary and Joaqin Moraga Intermediate School on January 24, and public performances were hosted on the evenings of January 25 and 26 in the CPAC.

The showcase featured an assortment of tunes, ranging from contemporary pop songs to “throwback” classics. The arrangements performed during Academy included “Try Everything” from Zootopia, “Take on Me” by A-ha, and Madonna’s “Material Girl.”

Daniel and sophomore Kiera Glenn performed the duet “Walk on Water” by 30 Seconds to Mars, and juniors Maggie O’Connor and Will Grubbs teamed up for “Can’t Sleep Love” by Pentatonix.

Junior Colin Lekki sang “It’s Alright” by Huey Lewis & The News, and senior Lucy Burcham performed Imagine Dragon’s “Believer.”

“We try to get music from a lot of different [genres, like] classic rock and contemporary songs that are on the radio right now. You get a little bit of everything for everybody; there’s a mix,” said Roberts, “Mostly stuff that the majority of the audience will recognize.”

In preparation for the show, Roberts brought in guest instructor Mike Engelhardt, a composer from St. Louis. “He agreed to come out and work with the kids for about 10 days. He picked the set list; he rehearsed them on the arrangements. Some of them he wrote, some of them his friends wrote. He taught it to the students,” Roberts said.

“I think the most valuable part of [practicing for the showcase] is to get to work with Mike, to get to work with someone different, who has a skillset in pop music. I’m fine with working on pop music, but it’s not my strongest skillset, and it is something he’s really strong at,” Roberts said.

Daniels said, “It was cool. He definitely had a different teaching style than we’ve worked with in the past, so it was really interesting; it was really fun.”

“Love,” is an original written by Engelhardt. According to Roberts, the song is about Engelhardt’s friend’s battle with cancer. “It’s not like him arranging a Katy Perry song or a Bruno Mars song. It’s just a song he conceived of and wrote entirely himself. They’re the first group to get to perform it publicly, which is kind of cool,” he said.

The show ended roughly 10 minutes before the end of Academy period. Audience members shouted for an encore. Though it was unplanned, the vocalists performed “Sing” by Pentatonix, inviting members from all the choir classes down to the floor to join in.

“Usually we do that song with a band, so [Mr. Roberts] told us at the beginning that we weren’t going to do it, because we don’t have a band here. But then, it was kind of just like, ‘Alright, here we go,'” said Daniels.

Freshman Isabella Bartos attended the showcase and said that she really enjoyed watching it. “It was way better than my expectations,” Bartos said, “[I liked] that they gave a lot of different solos, so it wasn’t the same people over and over again. It was nice that they sang different songs so we could see their voice range and all that kind of stuff.”

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