As I said in my last post, Picnic Dates, Complaints, and Freebies, Andy and I planned on attending the annual spring choir concert at our old high school, C. B. West. I was highly involved in choir in high school, so it’s always really important for me to go back and support the arts in my old schools. Also, West choir is known throughout the area (and the country!) for putting on amazingly entertaining concerts.
Our conductor, Dr. Ohrt, always commissions the most amazing music and provides us with an awesome and varied repertoire to perform. With West Choir I’ve preformed in the Basilique du Notre Dame in Montreal (where Celine Dion got married!!), Carnegie Hall, the Ryman Auditorium, the UN building, the National Art Museum, and many other notable locations in South Carolina, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York! Choir is one of the things that I miss the most about high school, and participating in the performative, social, and organization aspects of choir really prepared me for college and my job in the “real world”.
My own life-story aside, the choir concert last night definitely did not fail to impress and entertain. The first song was Carmina Burana: Cantiones Profane, which you’ve all heard before but just don’t know about it. It’s that epic song thats in the trailer for tons of action movies. The song was accompanied by was a great (and at times hilarious) interpretive dance!!
The concert was then divided into three main themes: Native American, Performance/Stephen Hatfield, and Rock n Roll!!! The Native American aspects of the concert were enhanced by composer and performer Valerie Naranjo, who was a percussionist for SNL for over fifteen years! She collaborated with the concert on many pieces, both traditional Native American songs and new interpretations of old songs.
Although he was not present, Stephen Hatfield‘s works were prominently featured in the concert as well. Most of his pieces were highly performative, featuring many percussion instruments, complicated movement, costumes, and props. I couldn’t take my eyes off the choir! Two songs that the choir performed were commissioned for C. B. West by Hatfield: “Poltergeist on a Stick” (inspired by a weedwhacker) and “Flying Colors”. “Flying Colors” was performed by the men’s and women’s ensembles, and featured four different “tribes” of singers, marked by their colors. The tribes “introduced” themselves with song, and then proceeded to start a war and eventually find piece. It was SO interesting to watch! I wish I could have been back to perform it with them 🙂 .
The annual choir trip this year was to Cleveland, Ohio, home of Rock N Roll! Many Rock Songs were featured in choral arrangements: “We Will Rock You”, “Renegade”, “Proud Mary”, and “Man in the Mirror”. The soloists for “Proud Mary” and “Man in the Mirror” TOTALLY rocked both songs out, and the band was awesome! Definitely not your typical “choral” music. I had to stop myself from singing along (I did dance in my seat though!).
The concert closed, as usual, with “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. As soon as the choir started singing “The Lord Bless You…”, I’ll admit, I started crying! Don’t worry, they were happy tears. Nostalgia is a good thing, because it reminds me of how blessed my life was, and still is! Listening to the choir sing and watching the emotion in their face as they performed made me remember all the amazing experiences I had when I was in the choir. Like I said, West Choir, more so than anything else in high school, had one of the biggest influences on the person I am today. The arts are so very important in schools, because they allow students to engage their bodies, their minds, and their souls while creating beauty and making relationships that will last the test of time.
- What activities did you participate in in high school? Are you still involved in the same kind of activities?
- Do you think the arts are important in our communities, especially in school environments? (I do!) Why?