Circle of singers brings energy to concert

Attendees of this year’s annual Chorale Concert enjoyed an unusual performance in which singers from all grades filled the Chorale Room by forming a large circle facing inward, all the better to hear each other and blend, Chorale Director Joe Horning said. 

An audience of around 80 faculty members, students, and parents gathered on January 21 for the concert, which tapped multiple genres ranging from Scottish folklore to South African traditional music. In addition to the Chorale, the school’s two acapella groups—the all-male Knightingales and the all-female Voices of the Knight—also performed.

Mr. Horning said the circle formation began as a rehearsal exercise but stuck.

“As the students came to enjoy singing in a circle, I thought to myself that we could perform this way in the concert, too,” he said.

Knightingale member Trevor Donovan ’18 said that although he’d originally had doubts about performing in a circle, he ended up enjoying it.

“We have a smaller group this year, so it was nice to take up a larger portion of the room, and I thought we sounded better due to the fact that we could communicate with each other during songs,” he said.

Chorale performed several songs, including “Bye and Bye,” an African-American spiritual arranged by Mr. Horning, and “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

After the Chorale’s opening songs, Voices of the Knight sang The Zutons’ “Valerie,” Jason Mraz’ “I’m Yours,” and a mashup of “He’s So Fine” by Ronald Mack and “Please Mr. Postman” by Georgia Dobbins.

Following the Voices of the Knight, The Knightingales performed “I Want It That Way” by Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” and “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5.

Mr. Horning said he was happy with the groups’ performances on both Sunday and Monday, when the 23 singers entertained a second in-school audience during X block.

“I was pleased,” he said. “We gave two fine performances, and it was really encouraging to see so many parents [and faculty] show up.”

English Teacher Allison Kornet said she and other colleagues appreciated the scheduling of the X block performance since getting to evening concerts can be tough.

“So many students were rocking out in there,” she said, “and I don’t just mean the singers! When The Knightingales sang, Lily Brown ’19 was in full boy-band fan mode, grooving boldly in her seat, and then there were girls spilling in the door from the corridor trying to catch a listen. There was great energy in that room, and it revived the rest of the school day.”

Julie Klingenstein ’20, who has participated in Chorale and Voices of the Knight for two years, said she enjoyed performing this concert more than she did last year’s.

“For this concert, we had a lot of energetic pieces and a lot of soulful music,” she said. “In the past, we did a lot more classical songs, so this concert was more fun.”

Chongyuan Hong ’20, a member of the Knightingales, said he thought that, thanks to confidence and passion, all three groups performed better in concert than they had in practice.

Audience member Tim Longfield ’18 praised the environment the Chorale created and said he loved the singers’ clear passion for music, calling them unmatchable and the audience electric.

“You could tell from their voices the hard work they put in,” he added.

To prepare for the concert, Chorale has been meeting twice a week since late September, and the two acapella groups have been rehearsing once a week. Their next concert is slated for May 6 at the Grace Episcopal Church in Newton.


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