The shift from regular to virtual school has been an interesting one to say the least. For most core classes and even some electives, the transition to online learning was fairly smooth, as worksheets and notes can be shared virtually, and a teacher’s guidance is often offered through Zoom or Google Meets. But for the RHS Choir program, a much more interactive class, the switch was a bit more difficult to navigate.
Each year, the choir has their spring concert at West Side Presbyterian Church. Students spend months learning and perfecting a repertoire of new songs which they get just one night to showcase; but, because of recent circumstances, one of the choir’s favorite concerts of the year was canceled. Thankfully, choir director Steven Bourque was not planning on letting months of his students’ hard work go unrewarded. He quickly thought up a way to create a virtual ensemble that emulated the real deal as best it could. Inspired by famous choir composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, RHS choir, with the special assistance of concert choir student James Harkins, was able to produce their very own virtual choir. Each student recorded a solo video of themself singing their part of the combined piece that was meant to be performed at West Side, entitled “Baba Yetu”, and submitted it to be edited with the rest of their peers’ voices by Harkins. The outcome was an amazing video featuring all choir members just performing, as they love to do. It is amazing to see how useful and powerful technology can be, still bringing us together, when we are all apart.
While it may not have been a “real” concert, it was such a gift for the choir to even be able to “perform” just one of their pieces. The choir continues to meet virtually, typically once a week for class, and also works diligently through Google Classroom as well. After the success of the “Baba Yetu” video, the choir produced another virtual video in honor of their graduating seniors. “I Lived”, unlike “Baba Yetu” was learned entirely online, and had the year gone as planned, it would’ve been performed at the choir’s annual final concert. It was a beautiful testament to the choir class of 2020 and brought a little joy to their otherwise gloomy quarantine days.
Not only have the choir ensembles been creating music online, but the acapella groups at RHS have risen to the challenge of producing virtual music as well. The all-male A Cappella group, East 627 and the all-female group, The Aceballas worked to create virtual arrangements of songs and were premiered over Zoom for the rest of the RHS A Cappella groups. The Acabellas sang a Beyonce medley, which can be found on YouTube, and East 627 showed off their virtual performance of “Stacy’s Mom”.
The four A Cappella groups have been busy, putting aside time once or twice a week to meet over zoom to rehearse, discuss arrangements, produce virtual music, or just catch up with each other. As a member of The Trebles A Cappella group, I can say that it has been hard not to be able to rehearse in person, but every member is dedicated and willing to rehearse on their own in order to produce a virtual performance. The Maroon Men, Acabellas, The Trebles, and East 627 all miss each other very much, and cannot wait to be able to resume their early morning in-school rehearsals. The groups are still planning on making more virtual music, so check out for that on YouTube and Instagram. The Maroon Men have also made a Tik Tok, so make sure to check it out @rhsmaroonmen!
Meadow Paliotta & Emma Schmalz
Graphic: Sunny Rhew