Monday, February 13, 2012

What We're Up To: Reflecting on MLK

By: Olivia Duvall, Concert Choir
Olivia has been in BCC for two years. She is 12 years old.

The year before I joined BCC, I went to the MLK concert to see what BCC was like. I was engaged the entire time, which is pretty impressive considering I was only 8 or 9 years old. Each year since that I have been engaged for the duration of the concert! This year was no exception, but in quite a different way because I got to perform!

During down time and meals, I had a great time with my friends, and participating in the concert was very fun, too. My favorite piece was definitely "Horizons." Watching PC and YME sing it was simply magical, and being able to perform alongside them was an honor. Though there was a lot of time where we were not singing, we still had to be professional the entire time, which was hard. But all of our hard work paid off in the end, and we produced an amazing concert once again! I am honored to be part of an organization that can create such magical times such as the MLK concert.

By: Madeline Mechem, Concert Choir
Maddie has been in BCC for 5 years. She is 16 years old.

The weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one of the busiest for the Boston Children’s Chorus. This year, which was the 9th concert at Jordan Hall, was the first in which my choir, Concert Choir, was performing onstage. Last year was the first MLK concert we performed in, though we only played minor parts in the aisles.

Concert Choir’s MLK weekend starts the Friday before, at Temple Israel in Boston. Every year, Temple Israel has a special Shabbat service in honor of Dr. King, and CC has performed there for several years. Our set lists always include a piece in Hebrew and any songs from our repertoire that seem relevant. This year, we sang Let the Heavens Be Glad (alongside the Temple Israel Choir), Climbin’ Up The Mountain Children and Stand Together. With the congregation, we sang Havah Nashira and, in a blast from last year, Oseh Shalom, which brought back memories for those who were in last year’s CC. The Temple Israel MLK Shabbat is always really fun, because it is really centered on music. At one point in the service, members of the synagogue will pass out instruments to the audience, which includes Concert Choir, and everyone who has an instrument will bang on it or shake it in tempo with the music that is playing. Also, everyone at Temple Israel is so nice, and they must like us, since they keep inviting us back every year.

Two days later, Concert Choir, along with Premier Choir and Young Men’s Ensemble, came to Jordan Hall. We arrived around 12 pm, so that we could attend a class held by American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle who was this year’s celebrity guest. Ms. Doolittle is an amazing person and a great singer. She told us her story, how she became interested in music, how she wound up on American Idol. Then, she took about half an hour, probably more, and listened to representatives from each of the three choirs sing, after which, she would give them tips on how they could take that song from ‘awesome’ to ‘extraordinary.’ CC only had one representative, which was Madison King-Gianno (Maddi). She sang Someone Like You by Adele, and did a great job. Other performers were Alana (PC) and Marlon Matthews (YME)and Khamari Barnes (YME). There were about twenty or so people who went up on that stage, and all of them did spectacularly.

After the class, we all went into rehearsal. After warm-ups, CC stayed in the rehearsal area with our conductor, Mrs. Adams, until it was time to go into the hall. For those who haven’t been there, Jordan hall is a huge space, with gilded d├ęcor, a huge stage, and a gigantic balcony. CC’s rehearsal was pretty short, since we only had four songs to sing. The opening song, which we were onstage for, was the National Anthem as arranged (re-written) by Anthony Trecek-King (conductor of PC/YME and Artistic Director of BCC). Then we went offstage, and half of us, including myself, went up to the balcony, while the rest stayed on the ground floor. From these positions, we went into the hall and added sound effects to an a capella piece called Horizons. In this piece, we were humming and singing at certain parts, trying to add an eerie effect to the piece. After Horizons, those of us in the balcony went downstairs and waited by the doors for the next song, which came five or six songs later. This song, I’ll Fly Away, was performed in a sort of bluegrass-country style, and CC’s job was to come in through the doors on the last chorus, smiling and dancing and singing, trying to get the audience involved.

For the last song we rehearsed, we came in singing the last chorus, trying to get the audience engaged. The song, I Go To The Rock, done a sort of blues-jazz-soft rock style, was sung alongside Melinda Doolittle, who opened the song with Rock of Ages. This song was actually sung twice during the concert, once in the middle without us, and once as a reprise where we actually did come in.

MLK day finally came, and everyone in Jordan hall was running around, looking busy. There were two mostly full houses to seat, three choirs to feed, 150 people to coordinate, and someone (me) left their uniform at home. Once everything got settled, and everyone was in place, the show began. There were two concerts, and both went about the same way. Concert Choir opened, and the National Anthem sounded really cool the way it was arranged in a three part harmony. It also sounded better than it had in rehearsal, when it was almost perfect. Horizons was mysteriously pretty, with great harmonies, and the “mists” of Concert Choir did their job nicely. The other two pieces were fun, and they sounded great. Ms. Doolittle was engaging as a host and amazing as a performer. PC and YME sounded fantastic, and no one smashed the door into my face while I was listening through the cracks next to the hinges. All in all, it was just another great MLK concert, one that I hope CC can repeat next year.