Last night my wife and I attended a junior high school choir concert. I know that sounds painful to some music lovers. But this event was actually quite enjoyable.
Junior highs from the local school district sent choir members to a daylong symposium at a nearby university. Each choir had prepared two numbers for the event. Each choir learned an additional three numbers to be performed as a combined group. A talented guest conductor led students through various exercises and learning experiences throughout the day.
In the evening students returned with their family members for the performance, which was held in the university's largest theater. By the time the event started there were few empty seats left. Choirs had practiced getting on and off stage quickly to minimize the time between choirs.
Most schools brought only a select set of choir members. A couple of schools brought all members of all of their choirs. That was the case with the first school to perform. The two numbers performed by this choir were impressive. They were powerful and well executed. Each student paid close attention to the director. He obviously expected much from his students and they obviously delivered. It was difficult to believe that these were mere junior high students.
The second choir to perform was also comprised of a relatively large group. As with the first choir, the director obviously demanded much of her students, but they seemed to like it. There is a certain reward in rising to a challenge, especially as a group. Many students prefer this to having an "easy" choir director.
Most of the subsequent choirs were more along the lines of what you'd expect from a junior high choir. None were bad. But none performed at the same level as the first two choirs.
The smallest choir, however, put in a very good performance. The stage had been arranged with a full Steinway grand piano in front of the risers on which the choir members stood. Unfortunately, the piano accompaniment sometimes drowned out the smaller choirs.
The smallest choir, however, performed both of their numbers acapella, so there was no accompaniment to drown them out. Moreover, the director arranged the small group in a way that maximized their vocal power as a group. The members of this choir had all been selected by audition, so they were all talented vocalists. So the numbers were very well done despite their small number.
Finally, all of the choirs came on stage together and the guest conductor came out. When the first chord of the first number was sung it was so powerful that I (probably along with most audience members) was stunned by the dynamic power of the group. They sang well and with tremendous power. All three numbers were a joy to hear.
I wasn't sure what to expect when we walked into the theater at the university. So I had few expectations. I walked out of the theater quite pleased with the event and grateful that my child was able to take part.