Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sing...Sing A Song...

Last night we attended “Choirs in Concert” by the New Albany high school performing arts department led by choir director, Karrie Horton. It was an entertaining evening and we could tell the kids had worked hard on their performances. More importantly, most of them seemed to enjoy themselves up there on stage, and that’s a good thing to see. A lot of the credit probably goes to their teacher as she seemed to enjoy herself as much – if not more – than the kids did. She made the statement that she loves coming to work every day and that’s not something everyone gets to say about their job. Pretty cool, huh?

Many of the songs the students sang were “contemporary.” In other words, they were not composed by long-dead men in long white powdered wigs, like the songs we used to sing in Choir.

Yes, I was in the Alliance High School choir for four years and I have to say that I enjoyed myself then under the direction of our choir teacher, Mr. Hisey, who had a quick smile and would get so “into” his direction that his black glasses would slip down his face and his dark hair would flop down over his forehead. So he was constantly pushing up his glasses and smoothing his hair back and then immediately finding the right chord on the piano to lead us once again into song. This all took place back in the “dark ages.” Well, okay, it wasn’t quite that long ago, but we are talkin’ the 70’s here.

Interestingly, many of the songs sung last night were composed in the 70’s by artists such as Steely Dan, REO Speedwagon and the Carpenters. Songs by the Beatles and Johnny Cash were also sung, but I don’t know if they were produced in the 60’s or 70’s. Sure, I could look it up, but I’m feelin’ lazy today. (Feel free to do some extra credit homework, people…!)

Now that I think about it, the kids who were singing those songs last night probably never heard of the Carpenters or Steely Dan…so, to them, the songs may as well have been composed by long-dead men in long white powdered wigs. This is not true, of course, although the artists probably did have long hair. It was, after all, the 70’s.

Not all the songs the NAHS choir sang were from artists who performed in the decades before these kids were born. No, they sang a few really contemporary songs – like “Single Ladies” by Beyonce and “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne.

I‘m sitting here trying to imagine Mr. Hisey trying to get an unruly bunch of high school kids to settle down and sing “Single Ladies.” Nope, can’t quite manage that image.

Another difference between the singers last night and our choir back in the 70’s is the clothing. The kids last night wore black shirts and blue jeans. Except for the A Capella singers, who either wore colorful floaty dresses or black suits. And, yes, it was the girls wearing colorful floaty dresses and the boys wearing black suits. Sheesh. I didn’t think I’d need to clarify that point.

When we were in the choir, we were not allowed to wear blue jeans on stage. No, in fact, we wore black choir robes. Yikes. BIG difference, huh? And our elite singers, which we called the Madrigals, wore somber long dark dresses and black suits. (Sorry. This time I refuse to clarify who wore what. You figure it out.)

There’s another difference I can mention – and that is hair styles. Many of the girls last night wore their hair long and straight. We didn’t have flatirons back in the 70’s, so instead we went with the “Farrah Flip” or the “Dorothy Hamill Wedge” and most of the guys wore their hair long. A few of the guys with curly hair even managed to do the whole ‘fro thing.

Hmmm….now that I think about it…last night I did see a blond ‘fro. That’s a style I didn’t think I’d see come back. But I guess it’s true that what goes around comes around, eh? Oh, and I did see two Mohawks last night – one on a female and one on a male. (The male might even have been Vince’s son, Vinnie, but I will neither confirm nor deny that. I will say that it was a little surprising to see. But, hey, it’s not my head. I guess he can do whatever he wants with his.)

At the end of the night the kids brought their teacher a bouquet of flowers, which was lovely to see. And she bestowed upon many of them various honors and awards for their participation in the choir. (One of those recipients might even have been Vince’s son, Vinnie, but we don’t want to show too much favoritism here!)

Personally, I look back fondly on my days in the Choir in high school. I remember hanging out with good friends. And I also remember learning how to play Euchre. Hey, it was a long class that I seem to recall was then followed by “study” hall in the same room. Very little studying got done, as you can imagine, since we were all playing cards. So, sitting in a choir room playing Euchre was way preferable to, say, sitting in Spanish class with Miss Mundy. I bet the kids sitting in study hall in the Miss Mundy’s classroom were not allowed to play Euchre. Just a guess.

Anyway, after the final song last evening, we saw a few of the seniors get a little teary-eyed, which tells me that they truly enjoyed their time in high school and with the choir. I can only hope that the underclassmen feel that same way when they become seniors. For all the angst that goes along with the teenage years, high school is still a special time.

And, some day when these kids look back on the “dark ages” of 2010, I hope they recall their days in the choir with fondness.

Rock on, Mr. Hisey. Wherever you are…

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