Choir Festival

Last month, North Point’s music department represented at Morgan State University. State Choir Festival was held April 26th-30th at the Murphy Fine Arts Center on MSU’s campus. North Point’s Honors ensembles Eagles in Harmony and Chamber Choir both performed gloriously on Thursday, April 29th. The invitation to even compete at state is an honor in of itself; one only offered after receiving a score of straight 1’s at District Festival. To most, it would seem that getting a score of 1 on a 1-5 scale would be nothing to celebrate. But it’s quite the opposite in the case of Festival—a 1 indicates that you are at the top of your game, and worthy of much colorful praise.

North Point’s two choirs arrived at MSU in the early afternoon. As choirs from other high schools trailed on and off the Murphy Center’s glittering stage, North Point students could feel the anticipation creeping up their arms. It was almost time to go!

Chamber Choir would perform first. The ladies of Eagles in Harmony sat patiently with the parent chaperones when Chamber left for their warm-up. No boisterous cheering was allowed, but Eagles still tried their hardest to be an enthusiastic audience as Chamber took to the stage.

A few parents wondered if the judges noticed one side of the auditorium clapping harder and louder than the other… After Eagles finally quieted down, Chamber Choir was formally introduced to the audience, and they began their songs.

First sung was “The Spiritual,” by Ysaye Barnwell; then “Zigeunerleben,” in which several Chamber members sang a solo; and then “I Will Be Earth,” by Gwyneth Walker. Each cadenced end of a song was met with generous applause, and of course, the curious whispers of the adjudicators murmuring comments into their recorders.

After watching two more performances—a required part of participating in Festival—Eagles in Harmony made their way for the warm-up room. The mini-reception hall, furnished in a deep wood, had heavenly acoustics—their voices seemed to float and bounce around in the air.

A knock comes, and a woman with a clipboard tells the girls it’s time to go. Finally on stage, Eagles sang “He’s Gone Away” for their first piece, a somber but beautiful melody; “Gate Gate” for their second; and “Ah si mon moine voulait danser!” for their closer. Chamber choir supported Eagles throughout; clapping along with the delighted audience.

After singing, both choirs went on to sight-reading—the most nerve-racking aspect of Festival according to some. Each group was shown a rhythm they’d never seen before then asked to clap it; and then shown a piece of music they’d never seen before and asked to sing it. For choir veterans like Cliff Strass (’10), the task was not a difficulty. Both choirs emerged with a 1 in sight-reading, proving that North Point’s students have a musical ability to be reckoned with.

Overall, Chamber Choir received a 1 for their total score, and Eagles in Harmony received a 2. Both are major accomplishments for competition on a state level.

Strass, a four-year member of Chamber Choir, said last week’s Festival performance was definitely their best year. “I thought our choir had a lot more connections. In past years, we weren’t as close. This year, I think being connected was a big reason we got a 1, ‘cause we came together.”

Nicole George (’11), an alto in Eagles in Harmony, will look back on last Thursday’s experience with happy memories. “I’ll remember all the fun that we had together, how we got to actually bond, [how] we grew as a choir.” George has been a member of Eagles for two years, and knows that their hard work is the reason behind their improvement. “We stepped it up this year. It was rewarding.”

For choral director Ms. Kristin Triantafillou (a.k.a. Ms. T), this is a grand way to end her first year at North Point. “I was really thrilled. I was proud of how everyone performed and stepped up their game and of how much growth has happened, not only from the last couple of weeks, but since August. That was huge, to the pull performances [they] did.”

Ms. T continually reasserted her pride in Eagles’ and Chamber’s level of performance. “Both groups took many risks to try and be expressive and really tell the story of each song, which helped to create a visual as well as aural performance that North Point can be proud of.”