Songs for a winter night warmed a large audience at Columbia High School on Monday as more than 600 youth musicians – yes, 600! – filled the stage, risers and aisles of the auditorium for a “Winter Choral Spectacular.”
Choirs from Columbia High School and the South Orange and Maplewood Middle Schools shared the stage with performances that ranged from spiritual to bluegrass, with a sprinkling of favorites from “Frozen” and “Wizard of Oz.” Their peers accompanied the choirs on piano, guitars, violin, fiddle, bass and drums depending on the genre, tempo and mood.
Selections included a traditional Haitian folk song, “Pezé Café,” with CHS students Sabine Wancique and Bryan Pierre-Paul serving as dialect coaches for the CHS choir. Henry Conrad-Poor, violin, and Charlotte Steiner, piano, accompanied the combined choirs of the three schools in a moving “Dona Nobis Pacem” canon for peace.
The middle school choirs, directed by Jacob Ezzo (South Orange) and Regina Bradshaw (Maplewood), featured singers in their select, sixth, and seventh/eight grade combined choruses. Student musicians accompanied the groups on piano, including Glynnis Goff, Keira January, Lilly Grinhauz, Katie Newman, and Misha Nicholas. Middle school voices traded solos and blended harmonies.
With literally hundreds of choral singers in middle school, the combined concert provided a glimpse of the path these performers may take as they move on to the high school. The concert was the debut of Canens Vocem, a women’s chorus under the direction of Jamie Bunce, CHS Choral Director. Isaiah Thomas (piano), Edward Zarbetsky (bass) and Riley Wine (percussion) added accompaniment to the full choir’s “Total “Praise.”
The CHS Excelsior Singers, a select chambers choir, featured high school students who recently performed with the New Jersey All-State Chorus: Natalie Dix, Aanuoluwap Fawole, Holly Lehren, Vivienne Longstreet, Hannah Nye, Russell Pinzino, and Alexandra Pease, who was also selected for All-National Honors Chorus.
Our photos capture only so much of the performances. With smaller select choirs, to 150 and even 600 students on stage, this evening of songs for a winter’s eve truly called for a wide-angle lens.