Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top of the Pop (Concerts)

Although I am not personally a fan of the TV show Glee, I am amused by the popularity.  I am fairly certain that most fans of the show will not claim that it honestly reminds them of past high school choir experiences nor will they state that it is realistic in any way, shape or form.  They simply find it entertaining the way that many people find musical theater entertaining.  Or World of Warcraft.  All of these things are for people playing pretend, but they're fun anyway.

All of this talk of "music" and "fun" has led me to contemplate my own choral experiences.  I am not going to lie, I honestly enjoyed being in choir most of the time.  My high school's top choir focused mainly on concert choir singing.  For the uninitiated, this is music that is designed for large, well balanced choirs and can be both accompanied and a Capella.

Unfortunately, once a year all choirs in the school had to participate in a debacle known as the "pop concert."  In this format, we were required to learn "modern" music and jazz it up with choreography.  For choirs that are specifically coordinated to do this kind of schmaltziness (a la Glee), this is not a problem.  For choirs that typically stand still in big formal robes and focus on sound instead of appearance, it was usually a bit of a hot mess.

For entertainment purposes, I shall now endeavor to offer illustrated highlights from my pop concert history, starting with 7th grade.

"International Harmony General Theme"

Any resemblances to actual people are purely coincidental.  :)

For my first ever pop concert, I really don't remember the overall theme.  What I DO remember was the main song.  It was a Michael W. Smith number called "Seed to Sow" that involved singing in some foreign (African) language.  The song itself wasn't bad, and I could probably sing most of it for you now.  What was memorable about the performance was the dress requirement.  Every single choir student was required to make (or have their mother make) a cape/poncho/drapery out of colorful fabric to wear over their t-shirt and jeans.  This was probably to symbolize some sort of colorful diversity idea, but I would definitely pay good money to see any video recording of this shenanigan again.  It had to have been extremely hilarious to my parents.


Grrrr.  If you know me well, you know that country is not and never has been a favorite of mine.  Fortunately, the year that we did a country theme, my choir directors kept things old school with what I suppose you would call "traditional" country songs.  The school even splurged this time and purchased cheap straw cowboy hats for all the little choir students.  Our choreography even included the hats with some fancy twirling movement that was guaranteed to look awkward and again provide our parents with comic relief.

9th Grade:  Generic Lame Music Medley

I have to say that I found our senior high school pop concerts to be a bit of a let down after the major production values of junior high.  I'm not sure if this was because the choir director's heart wasn't into it and he just felt like had to fulfill an obligation, or if dancing on risers really just is THAT ridiculous.

Either way, our 9th grade pop concert was entirely forgettable.  We did some medley of oldish 60's and 70's music.  I can remember a few of them (unfortunately), but the one that always gets stuck in my mind is this one:

You can see that the costume budget went way down in 9th grade as well.

10th Grade:  Last Minute Disney

My sophomore year pop concert is a bit of a blur for me.  This is mainly because I didn't have to learn any of the choreography or lyrics.  Why?  I was playing the piano through the entire thing.  I'm pretty sure I did a crappy job of it too.  What I do remember is that when the time came to start preparing for the pop concert, our director didn't seem to have any idea what he wanted us to do.  We happened to have a Disney medley that we had played around with before, so we decided to tune it up and wing it.  This is definitely a concert that I would pay NOT to have to see on video.

This is from an obscure Disney song.  We were not dealing with modern stuff here, to be sure.

11th Grade:  Great Expectations

My junior year in choir was definitely my favorite overall.  We had a large and talented group (largely thanks to the senior class) and I was always proud to perform.  With this much promise, I had high hopes that our director would choose a really good set of music for our pop concert that would showcase our vocal abilities and maybe let us have a little fun.

For some reason, my director opted to sift through the old and obscure 60's and 70's era music in our files and pulled out some bizarre and somewhat "blah" choices.  I think one was from the musical Godspell.  The other one which was supposed to be "upbeat" was one no one had ever heard of before.  The only good thing about this concert was that we got to dress up in authentic 60's and 70's garb.

I KNOW there is a picture of me in this outfit somewhere.  If I ever find it, I'll add it here.  My dress was SWEET.

12th Grade:  Finishing On a Lame Note

This was my final year of high school.  By this point, I had learned not to have any expectations for the pop concert, and therefore I can say that I was not disappointed.  We didn't even get cool clothes this time around - just monochrome t-shirts and jeans.  Although we did get to "lounge" on the risers for our song from the musical Rent so that we could appear more casual and slacker-like.

Now that I am looking at the evidence, it appears that my pop concert experiences may have had a downward trend.  If the peak occurred in 7th with the technicolored ponchos, I'm not sure I can identify much with the plot of Glee in any given episode.  We certainly never got to sing Journey songs.  Or Young MC.  Honestly, I do think that our concerts would have been a lot more entertaining if we could have used "Bust a Move" instead of "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah."

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