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Music to their ears

Seven choir groups perform annual Pop Show with hits from Jordin Sparks, Nina Simone, Bart Howard.

February 21, 2009|By Alison Kjeldgaard

John Burroughs High School Auditorium buzzed Thursday evening with the sound of audience members talking excitedly about the performance that was about to begin, the 30th annual Pop Show.

The Pop Show is the Burroughs choir’s biggest performance of the year, featuring the school’s seven choir groups. Performance styles range from contemporary to classical, integrating music and dance.

This year, the show, titled “Pop Show 30 Still the One,” included songs heard on popular radio stations, such as “No Air” by Jordin Sparks, alongside older jazz songs, such as Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good.”

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“Every year it’s a little different,” said Kevin Collins, father of senior choir student Kaily Collins. “They really change the artistic flavor.”

The program’s unique onstage flavor has developed because of the community they have formed offstage, students said.

“I think [the program] is really special because through some strange way, we all become really close-knit,” said Tyler Mann, 16, a member of the advanced group, Powerhouse.

The close-knit community does not stop with the students. “[The program] wouldn’t be what it is without the parent booster program,” said Shelly Benedict, the vice president of Powerhouse and the full-choir costume coordinator.

While Benedict and the rest of the parent volunteers coordinate the costumes and funding necessary to keep the program running, choir director Brendan Jennings keeps the 180 choir students practicing and motivated.

“It’s a well-oiled machine,” Benedict observed.

Jennings directs the four main choirs: Powerhouse, Sound Sensations, Sound Waves and Decibelles. Three subgroups of the larger choirs also performed Thursday: Men at Work, a men’s choir, and two a cappella choirs, Muses and Voice Ensemble.

“We have a huge senior class this year. . . . They’re pretty fantastic,” Jennings said.

The first act featured the Decibelles, Muses and Sound Waves and individual performances.

Sound Sensations, the advanced women’s choir, ended the act dressed as flight attendants. Going along with the costume design, the set featured songs such as “You Can Fly,” from Disney’s “Peter Pan” and “Fly Me To the Moon” by Bart Howard.

In the second act senior Sofia Cohen performed a solo, “Praying for Time” by George Michael, while Powerhouse performed its competition set, “Who Made Up All the Rules?”

In March, the choir will be performing this set at the FAME national choir competition in New York. Having won first place in the past two years, the choir hopes to win again.

“I think it’s the best Pop Show yet,” choreographer Jenn Porter-Stanley said. “The talent pool is very high this year. [The performers] are fearless and confident.”

Porter-Stanley, who also choreographs at Jordan Middle School, has been working with many of the senior choir members since seventh grade.

“I’ve seen them grow,” she said. “I’ve seen them become who they were meant to be.”


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