December 7, 2018
What is that beautiful sound coming from room B118? Well, it’s this year’s choirs preparing for their winter concert on December 18th at 7:00pm in the auditorium. Now you may think that chorus is an easy A, but let’s set it straight. If you’re looking at taking choir for the 2019-20 school year, then you might want to know that choir is a place where you must put forth your best effort if you want to be a great choral singer. If you are wondering what it takes to prepare for a concert than you have come to the right place.
Each year, choir, band and orchestra have three annual concerts. They are fall, winter and spring concerts. For the fall concert, all three ensembles perform one or two of their own pieces. Towards the end of the concert the marching band comes in to do a few songs and then sing the Atholton fight song with the audience. The fall concert is the only one where every ensemble performs on the same night. For example, for the winter concert each ensemble performs on their own night. This year, band performs on Wednesday, December 12th, and the orchestra performs the next night on the 13th.
Junior classmen, Elena Wenderoth, explained how choir typically prepares for their concerts. “As we approach the date of the concert, we start running through the program and focus less on sight-reading and learning notes. In the evenings, there are more rehearsals for specialized choirs followed by the combination of all choirs.” As Elena explained, preparing for a concert usually ramps up a week or two after the previous concert, so there is not a lot of time to relax, as they start to prepare for another one.
This year’s concert has a very special theme that people should pay close attention to: Mental Health Awareness. For a choir it is very important to show emotion, especially when you have a theme that is as serious as mental health. “We do a lot of movement and that is not just for expressions, but also it helps us sing better and release tension and helps with rhythm and study beat,” said Ms. Meloro, an advocate of making sure that music is able to be transmitted to the audience, and what it is about. David Lowe, junior classmen, gave his intake on how he believes choir connects with the audience,
“We try to make the music connect to the audience by picking something that they can relate to, or something that can be applied to current situations or things happening in the real world.”
Coming up with a theme or songs for a concert is very tricky because Ms. Meloro has to be conscientious of whether a song or theme is too religious or even offensive to some people. Ms. Meloro talked about how “it is difficult in some ways,” but she believes that “a good teacher is conscious about a good balance or having a good educational reason for programming it.” One of the pieces that choir is doing is “City Called Heaven”, which is thinking about “going through a hard time and you know that if you just bare through it, you’ll have the reward which is heaven,” said Ms. Meloro. She explained how “someone who may not believe in heaven or have that subscription they can still think about getting through a troubled time and thinking of a better place whether its if I just get through midterms, my family is going on a vacation.”
Now for those of you who are debating about joining choir, you may be wondering how you would fit within the choir itself. Junior Joelle Popa, in her 3rd year in the Atholton choir, helped provide some insight on how Ms. Meloro makes sure you feel right at home. “Ms. Meloro is very good at listening to people’s voices and finding a good place vocally for everyone,” she said. Joelle has also been joyful for all the connections and friendships she has made through choir itself alone. “I feel free and welcome to talk to absolutely anyone. My first and longest-lasting high school friendships have been because of choir, and I’m still making new friendships in there everyday,” she said. So even if you have more questions, you at least know that choir will be a place where you will feel welcomed and will be able to build relationships with other choirmates.
Choir is a place where you will be counted on to do your part and participate on a daily basis. Ms. Meloro makes sure that students are held accountable, but she does not want students to be discouraged to sing out loud and become scared of joining choir or staying in it. “For learning their parts, we do part testing to make sure you have the accountability to go home and work on it, so they submit a recording of them singing the song that I assign a part test for,” as stated by Ms. Meloro, as she describes how to make sure that students are practicing their music. “We also do in class part testing where the whole section will sing and I have the training to pick out certain voices and tell if something is wrong or I can’t hear someone.”
To finish off this behind-the-scenes look into the choir life, here are some words of encouragement from Ms. Meloro herself about what she would say to students who want to join choir. “Come, try, signup. You have my blessing and encouragement. You’ll learn a lot and I think that is the biggest thing,” described Ms. Meloro. “It is hard work but it can be so rewarding when you do the final product and you hear yourself sing and reflect on what you’ve done.”