The choir room was swarming with anxious students as they awaited their turn to audition in front of the Chambers or the Women’s Ensemble Choir.
Friday, February 22 was the beginning of week long auditions to determine next year’s choir placement.
The school requires at least one art credit; choir is a full year course that is able to fulfil that credit if singing is something you enjoy. You aren’t required more than year of choir to acquire your art credit, but for students who are looking to be apart of a more advanced level ensemble, these auditions are mandatory.
The four choirs in McMahon can be compared to a hierarchy in which: Chamber Choir and Women’s Ensemble are on the top tier as being the elite ensembles, advanced choir is in the middle, and freshman choir as being on the bottom and where most first year choir students are placed.
Those looking to climb the choirs must undergo these these auditions.
Choir director Frank Arcari opens up the auditions to all his students and provides any student ability to audition into these higher choirs.
Arcari sent out a listing of students on all his Google Classrooms on the night of February 21. Next to the names is either a “first period” or “fourth period” indicating which time Arcari is hoping to see the student for their audition.
B day block one and four are during the higher choir classes: first period is Chambers and fourth period being Women’s Ensemble. Students are expected to sing a song in front of their assigned ensemble; this year’s song is titled “My Spirit Sang All Day” by Gerald Finzi.
“When I first found out I was like: ‘Wow great, I have to sing in front of the entire Women’s Ensemble, and that’s terrifying.’ I spent at least like two hours practicing,” says Sarah Chute, a freshman choir student who was told to sing for fourth period.
Chambers and Women’s Ensemble looks at specific critiques like…
The student sings in a quartet, or a group of four singers which are comprised of a soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. These four singers must hold their part during the entire song and ultimately should come together to create a harmonious sound.
Depending on how the student does, Chamber Choir or Women’s Ensemble (depending on which period the student is auditioning in) discusses whether that individual belongs to Advanced, Women’s, or Chamber Choir.
“Everyone in Women’s and Chambers has gone through this process. I still had to sing a solo in front of advance choir last year. The auditions are not a big deal. You just have to go in, have fun, and keep a smile on your face.” says Chamber Choir member Lauren Kelly (‘21), who is able to empathize with the nerves the entire process invokes.
In the end of the day, the final placement of the students is Arcari’s call. However, he believes discussing an individual as a group teaches his students what to look for when auditioning, and more importantly: to create a passionate spirit amongst the ensembles.
“Collaborative music making is reliant upon other people’s performance, so if they don’t have drive or ambition, it’s not only affecting them but everyone else. If you’re not good at math, that’s on you. But what this is group project every minute of everyday,” says Arcari with regards to the importance of keeping a passion amidst his choir’s hearts.