Choral music replaced the sounds of sports activities in the Englewood High School fieldhouse during the March 19 Festival Choir Concert.
The concert featured singers from five Englewood schools: Bishop and Clayton elementaries, Englewood Middle School, Englewood Leadership Academy and Englewood High School.
“This is the second year we have done the festival choir concert in celebration of Music in Our Schools Month,” said Garlyn Saddler Bello, EHS choral director. “There are 250 voices taking part in tonight’s program. There will be a time when all the singers are on stage, plus there will be songs performed by one school’s choir as well as songs performed by special groups of singers like the Englewood Talent Company.”
She said preparations for the program have been under way for a while, with performers practicing their music.
“We only had one night, March 18, to rehearse but everyone has worked hard and the rehearsal went very well,” Saddler Bello said. “I think the biggest challenge I had putting the performance together was the planning and timing so all the equipment and people were in place at the right time.”
In her opening comments, the EHS choral director said the event was an opportunity to bring attention to music programs in the schools. She said the program was designed to include a wide range of songs such as the oldies pop favorite “Sixteen Tons,” the spiritual “Joy in My Heart” and the Irish folk song “Maria’s Wedding.”
Throughout the performance, there were audio recordings and video clips of individuals talking about the importance of music in the schools.
A section of seats was reserved for the Bishop choir and, on the other side of the seating area, there was a section reserved for the Clayton singers.
Seats were hard to find in the fieldhouse seating area between the choirs as a large crowd of families and friends came to watch and hear the performance.
Pennie Aranda sat on her walker just inside the door.
“I am excited because I am here to listen to my great-grandchildren, Navaya and Jeremiah Cimino, sing,” she said. “The great-grandchildren really love music and they were very excited about singing with the Bishop choir. I’m glad because I also loved music when I was younger.”
As the start of the program neared, groups began lining up to take their places. By the door, Micah Scott said she was excited about being part of the festival.
“I love music and I love to sing,” the Englewood High School student said. “When we practiced together most of the young kids seemed a little nervous because they knew we’d be singing before a large crowd. But I believe they will quickly get over the jitters and do just fine.”
Scott said her favorite part in the program was the opening number, “Freedom is Coming,” a collection of songs of protest and praise from South Africa, because it is such a powerful collection of music.
A short distance away, Aliah Pater said bringing so many choirs together and blending their voices is amazing.
“It has been a great experience so far and I am looking forward to our performance tonight,” the Englewood Leadership Academy seventh-grader said. “I’m very excited and a little nervous right now but I know that will go away once the music starts.”
At the other end of the hall, Bishop second-grader Jada Tanner said she was very excited about being part of the program.
“I like music. Justin Bieber is my favorite,” she said with a smile. “All the voices sounded great at last night’s practice. I think this concert is special and I think it is a lot of fun.”