Photo by Michelle Hang ’19
Jamie Lee ’19 and Alex Li ’19
WHS Choir performed its winter concert, Swingin’ at Santa’s, on Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 in the Carpenter Family Theatre in front of a packed house.
Centered around the holidays, Swingin’ at Santa’s includes classic holiday songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “Ha Shalom.”
“I think picking music is a big thing. I want to get a variety of different kinds of music and not just all one type,” said choir director Amy Rolniak. “Every once in awhile I will find a new one that I like, but mostly, they’re old, classic Christmas songs.”
While Rolniak chose the songs for the first half of the concert, the students planned everything for the second half of the show.
“All the kids choreographed their own stuff, so the choreographers had to plan their own dance, and then teach it to the kids,” said Rolniak. “They became the teachers and the kids became their students.”
Not only did the members spend countless hours constructing creative dances for the show, but they also practiced outside of school, travelling to isolated camps in order to solidify their performance.
“We started preparing over the summer, learning a bunch of songs, and in class, everyday, we spend time to go over classical music,” said Will Huang ‘18, Vocal Ensemble and A Class Act member. “We went to a camp in Idyllwild for three days to learn a [lot] of dances for the show, and it was a really rewarding experience because we got to see how it played out on the stage.”
Finally, the stage was set and curtains opened for Swingin’ at Santa’s.
The excited crowd applauded the first song of the night, “Feliz Navidad,” sung by Freshman Chorus. Splitting into two more groups, Freshmen Women and Freshmen Men, the freshmen impressed the audience with passionate renditions of classics such as “Let It Snow” from the ladies and “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from the male group, which only has ten members.
Men’s Ensemble put up a stunning performance as they sung a unique mashup of “12 Days of Christmas” and the popular classic, “Africa,” by Toto. Throughout the song, they incorporated comedic interjections that received lots of laughter and applause from the audience.
In order to perfect this fun yet challenging song, Men’s Ensemble rehearsed for many hours, bonding throughout their hard work.
“[My favorite part of the Christmas show is] Men’s Ensemble,” said Vince Daurio ‘19, Vocal Ensemble and ACA member. “We sing really fun songs, and it’s fun getting to know the other guys and the other groups that I don’t normally talk to.”
Many groups took the stage during the first hour and sung their hearts out, and the crowd loved every second. The newly formed after-school group, Mixed Small Ensemble, impressed with great blending of their all-female sound.
Vocal Ensemble rounded out the first half of the concert with hits such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “S’vivon.”
However, the much awaited show choir half of the show finally arrived after a brief intermission. The lights dimmed, and ACA ran onto the stage to much applause from the audience.
Dressed in shimmery vests and dresses, ACA started the second half of the show with their own performance of timeless Christmas songs such as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
The entire choir collaborated in choreographed numbers, while singing to songs such as “Jingle Bell Rock,” “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”
Constant costume changes were carried out seamlessly and the singing and dancing were the sole focus of the audience. Each piece warranted applause that lingered in the air, especially after solos.
To finish out the night, members of the choir thanked the light crew, stage hands and Rolniak, their devoted mentor. The choir shared hugs on stage, and department president Austyn Weeks ‘18 and Rolniak embraced; all their efforts culminated the holiday show.
“We made a really cool sound. By letting go and trusting each other, we sang the best that I personally think we ever had,” said Daurio. “It was something beyond like anything any rule books could tell us. It was just a feeling of just music and fun.”