Singing Through the Holidays

One of the luxuries students at RHS get to enjoy is an extensive and enriching arts program. From diverse art classes to a professional recording studio, RHS provides seemingly limitless artistic opportunities. Particularly notable is our award-winning music program which includes sections of band, orchestra, and choir classes.

Mr. Bourque, the choral director, teaches five classes: two sections of Chorale, Concert Choir, Treble Choir and Chamber Choir. The program itself is unique because of how communal and team based it is. Mr. Bourque creates an environment where students “really care for each other and want the best for each other,” as stated by Chloe McCandless. Outside of class, enthusiastic musicians also have the opportunity to audition for an acapella group, as well as join the RHS Carollers.

The Trebles, East 627, the Acabellas, and the Maroon Men are the four acapella groups here at RHS. The Trebles and the Acabellas are all female, while East 627 and the Maroon Men are all male. Each group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 to 7:40 before school, and with only 80 minutes of rehearsal a week, and waking up far earlier than normal, this group of about 60 yearly participants are widely regarded as an outstanding display of RHS’ talent.

RHS’ four acapella groups also give students the opportunity to serve in leadership roles. Each group has a non-student director (Anna O’Keefe for the Trebles, Mr. Chen for East 627, and Mr. Bourque for both the Acabellas and the Maroon Men), as well as a student president and at least one student music director. During rehearsals, the music director’s job is to “make sure rehearsals run smoothly” as well as ensure efficient use of time so that “we can get the most out of every rehearsal” according to John Mondi, the Maroon Men’s music director. On the other hand, the president’s job is to “organize events and make sure that everyone is on the same page,” says Acabella President Ashley Orr.

In order to be a part of an acapella group, students must be involved in a music program at RHS (band, choir, orchestra) and go through a highly competitive audition and callback process. However, the choir program offers another group that anyone in a music program can participate in: RHS Carollers. 

Founded in 2010, the Carollers are a group of students dedicated to making the holiday season a little brighter for Ridgewood residents. Rehearsals start in September and end in November so the group is prepared to share holiday spirit all through December. Four-year Caroller, Lauren McCandless, says that Carollers is her “favorite part of the holiday season because [she loves] to brighten people’s days.” The Carollers sing a range of songs from traditional Christmas carols, to Hannukah songs, to a modern gospel rendition of “Deck the Halls.” They also perform at the annual Tree Lighting, Valley Hospital, the First Presbyterian Church, and the Ridgewood Center nursing home

Similar to choir class, Carollers promotes a unique group dynamic. Since the set list of songs is roughly the same every year, returning carolers are encouraged to assist their younger counterparts in learning their music and memorizing their parts, which is a way for upperclassmen to make new friends and for underclassmen to feel included and important in the group.

“I like the appeal of a group that anyone can be a part of,” notes Mr. Bourque. “It’s nice to have members of band and orchestra that want to sing and be part of this group.”

As the holiday season rolls around, the Carollers will be performing at their usual locations listed above. On top of this, all four acapella groups will perform at the winter Choir Concert, along with the five choir classes. Anyone interested in seeing the performances is welcome to do so in the Campus Center on Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Sophie Hartstein
Staff Writer

Graphic: Tess Cundiff

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