Choir ramps up for competition season

Friday's Cabaret debuts this years shows

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Amadou Diallo

The choir practices in the auditorium Wednesday in preparation for Friday's Cabaret.

Allison Ross, staff writer

Preparing for a choir show takes a lot more effort than most people realize.

Choir director Amanda Harrison has seen it all in the nine years she has been choir director here. This year’s competition season kicks off next weekend but all competition shows will debut this Friday in the choirs annual Cabaret show in the auditorium

Harrison has been preparing for Friday’s show since last May and the students have been preparing since August. The students start preparing by dedicating each minute of class time to learning the music they will compete with. They push themselves each class to be better than the day before.

“Even giving 10% more effort than the day before is the goal,” Harrison said.

The varsity show choir groups, Sounds and Premiers, spend four hours after school per week practicing the music and the choreography. The bar for the students performance is set high — she doesn’t want them to do just okay, or good enough, regardless of the accolades the groups receive they are expected to do as best as they can. The class time all groups use is fast-paced and hard working, constantly working on improvement. 

Harrison brings light to the steps needed to prepare for competitions that she as an administrator has to complete. She starts by explaining the work she has to do to prepare things for the students to begin practicing. She must make sure that the music the students perform is diverse enough to show the abilities of the choir students.

Then she and the other choir teachers work on how they would like the music to sound and how they want it to be performed, they do this in advance to avoid sudden changes in the music and confusion among the performers. She also has to pay for the rights to perform the music, as well as securing copyrights as to ensure she doesn’t face being sued. 

On the other side of things she says that she has been in contact with the schools she will be traveling to since last year in order to secure a spot to perform. She had filled out registration forms with the other schools and now must fill out more forms explaining the layout of the performances, how many students will be performing and the other many details of their shows. 

In years past when traveling the performers would wear purple polos with white stripes on the neck to identify who was with Ben Davis. Now the students wear purple choir jackets.

“It’s like a sea of purple when we arrive,” Harrison said.

Each choir group has their own tradition before competing. Sounds and Premiers has their own chant that varies from year to year depending on the leaders of the groups. Before a competition the groups will circle up and hold hands and lift each other up, and wish each other luck. They’re also given time to pray and or meditate before. 

The “themes” of the shows this year will include a “Queens” theme by Sounds. They will be performing songs featuring Cleopatra and The Queen of Hearts, also a song from the band Queen, as well as a song from Rupaul’s Drag Race. The group Premiers will be centering their music around the evolution of music culturally.  

“We are always trying to be better than we were the day before, even if it’s by the smallest amount, that’s success for us,” Harrison said.