Concert Prep, Programming & Choralpalooza
After a few weeks of school, I took rehearsal time to give each section a permanent standing order. I'd start with sopranos. Bring them all off the risers and then in groups of 2 or 3, send them back onto the risers to sing My Country 'Tis of Thee - starting pitch G. The object of the game was to get the very best unified sound I could without compromising a singer's volume. It's almost a visual phenomenon. When you place compatible voices next to one another, the blend is just glorious! I followed the same procedure with altos - starting on Eb. With tenors - starting on A below middle C and with basses - starting on F below middle C.
My section standing order - from left to right was SI - SII - A - B - T - A - SII - SI - dividing the girls into equal sections on both sides of the risers. The same was my go-to when I worked with the Voorhees Choir at Rutgers. SI - SII - A - SII - SI.
Long Standing Traditions
Winter Choral Concert
I love traditions. Borrowing from my own high school experience, I taught an SAB arrangement of Adam's O Holy Night for nearly 40 years and turned it into an alumni sing at our Winter Choral Concert. I made the third verse a SENIOR SOLO which became the only major solo audition during the year. I created a rubric for audition scoring and the class provided scores which I entered into an EXCEL sheet, tallied and announced the winner one week before the concert. O Holy Night was programmed just before the Grand Finale at which time I invited any alumni of the program on stage to sing with us. What a glorious gift! In the last decade, we averaged between 50-75 alumni on stage - to sing a three minute song with their high school choir! They flew in from all over and it was a very special reunion for all.
The Grand Finale of the Winter Choral Concert was Handel's Hallelujah Chorus - now inviting anyone who wished to come up on the stage and perform our finale with us. Scores provided for both selections. For a number of years our Symphony Orchestra provided a full accompaniment for this Finale. In the last decade, we reduced the players to a String Quintet on stage. And for my final performance of 2019, our newly appointed accompanist Mr. Ed Alstrom brought his Hammond Organ for our use and that truly made that performance a Grand Finale!
My Grand Finale!
Handel's Hallelujah Chorus
Ridge High School
Winter Choral Concert
Tuesday December 17, 2019
Spring Choral Concert
The traditions continued. The night before the Spring Concert was the final A Cappella Choir rehearsal. When that rehearsal ended, I asked all Seniors to remain behind for about an hour so that we could sit and chat - stage lights brought down to half, PAC locked and secured, tissue box at the ready. These are the singers with whom I had spent the most time, the singers who generally invested the most time in the program and who I knew might be pretty emotional during the actual performance (along with me), which I really did not want as our final performance together. I always felt it was our job to bring the best performance possible to our always-supportive audience and we could not achieve that if we were all a bunch of blubbering messes!
I bought graduation balloons from Party City, rented a helium tank and taped a balloon on the railing of the risers for every senior. If a student was able to schedule choir all eight semesters, they were presented a 4-year rose. Simple gestures which truly meant a lot to these singers.
For both concerts, the girls in Chorale contributed to the fund to purchase red carnations for every senior for both in-house concerts. As our concert attire was a white shirt, it was easy to spot the seniors in the crowd.