Symphonic Choir Heading to Carnegie Hall
They worked with a guest conductor Thursday to prepare.
The Bridgewater-Raritan High School Symphonic Choir is preparing for a performance April 8 at Carnegie Hall—and they welcomed a special guest Thursday to help them prepare.
Brian Schkeeper, assistant conductor to the Philadelphia Singers, spent time with the choir to help them prepare for their performance of Duruflé’s “Requiem,” which they will sing with about 150 other singers from high schools around the country.
“I think the choir is great, what a wonderful group of students,” Schkeeper said after working with the students on their tone and sound as they rehearsed the song with its Latin lyrics.
Schkeeper said he often travels to high schools to help choirs, and he enjoys the opportunity to work with different people. Full time, he works with choral director David Hayes in preparing the Philadelphia Singers for performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
“I hear things differently that my choirs don’t hear, and it takes them and me out of our usual routine,” he said. “Working with different choirs, you can say the same things, and they are heard differently.”
John Wilson, BRHS choral director, said he was looking forward to the students having the opportunity to learn from Schkeeper.
“Good conductors communicate the composer’s intent to their ensembles and audiences,” Wilson said. “I have seen Brian work with choirs and I can say this is a priority of his.”
Students said they were excited to learn from a different teacher and get experience with a new conductor, if just for one class.
“Having a guest conductor is always a unique experience,” said senior Amy Radwanski, a four-year member of the choral program. “You get the opportunity to understand this new person’s perspective.”
As for the preparation for Carnegie Hall, Wilson said he had to submit samples of the choir’s recent performances for acceptance into the show.
“The artistic director of Manhattan Concert Productions, Dr. Craig Arnold, reviews submissions and accepts ensembles that display high-quality musicianship and vocal production,” he said.
Wilson said the choir also performed at Carnegie Hall two years ago, and they will be singing the one long piece with all other students who will be there.
“[When they went two years ago], I was most proud that they really led the group, and I hope they will lead the charge this year,” he said. “They are going to be rock stars.”