By Nick Solimini
Two AHS show choirs – more than 80 teenagers — took to the stage at Andover Day on September 24.
As tents began popping up downtown on a long stretch of Main Street, high school kids wearing their purple Andover Vocal Music t-shirts began to fill the streets with donation cans and improvisational music to raise money. But around 10 a.m. they assembled for warm-ups and prepared for their first public performance.
“I was both excited and nervous. It was my first time performing in front of a large group of people,” said Matt Pangione, a sophomore and member of show choir. “I didn’t want to mess up, but at that same time I was just excited to show the audience what we’ve worked on.”
The Andover High School varsity show choir, From Start to Finish, performed two songs from its Billy Joel-themed set, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”
Also performing on the Andover Day stage was a second Andover High School show choir, Nothing But Treble. A new all-girls show choir (taking its name from the clever use of the term treble clef, the place in the music that girls take their notes from), Nothing But Treble performed “Cowboy Cassanova” by Carrie Underwood and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain as part of their Country Cowgirls-themed set.
“I don’t think we should be called a JV group,” said Sarah Freedman, a member of Nothing But Treble, “because we work just as hard as the other choirs.” Freedman says she thinks the groups definitely have potential.
The president of the group, Summer LeCain, agrees: “They’ve surpassed the group we had last year around this time. “
Last-minute reviews of dance and lyrics happened right behind the stage while students were waiting on deck. Erin Hudkins, member of From Start to Finish, brought the lyrics to practice. “[I] recited them repetitively trying to cram them into my brain, while trying to remember which dance moves come next!”
But the staging that the groups had prepared was affected by the stage they found downtown. Hudkins mentioned, “We didn’t see the stage or where we were performing until we got there and had to make accommodations as needed.”
Local mom of three, Sheryl Lomasney, who didn’t know of the choir’s problems, thought they did great — and her kids did too, evidently; they didn’t want to go, but stay and watch.
To prepare for this show, both show choirs as well as the chamber choir Spotlight (which did not perform at Andover Day, but at the 9/11 memorial) began in late August at “camp.” Meeting in the chorus room, they ran laps and started a rigorous exercise routine to prepare the members for dancing and singing at the same time: sometimes a difficult skill when set lists can be up to 20 minutes each. Then they began rapidly to learn the songs and choreography for a handful of the songs. Since then, they had been doing weekly rehearsals.
From this point forward they begin working on finishing their individual sets. Then, they will begin a mix of other songs for upcoming winter and spring concerts. The choirs have their first competition in January, at which they will showcase what they’ve worked on while competing with schools from around Massachusetts.
Show Choir has made a big impact on so many of its members that they feel quite strongly about the program. Hudkins says show choir has “slowly engulfed my entire life!” Alex Hanscom, a freshman member of From Start to Finish said, “To me, show choir is everything. I can’t think of going through the rest of high school without show choir.”
By looking at the enthusiasm its members have towards the program, it would seem they’d all say the same.