Once in a Lifetime

The rigorous regimen chorale followed wasn’t for nothing


Charlie Rosser

Talking It Out: Choir Director Elisabeth Baird gives instructions to the girls in chorale. Meant to put her students at ease, the instructions given were thorough.

The bus ride to MMEA was dead silent, you could have heard a pin drop. It wasn’t fear that was clouding the all-female chorale, but rather immense excitement for their upcoming performance in front of a crowd of around 550 people. It wasn’t just a regular concert or performance for the ladies, but rather a once in a lifetime opportunity. Soon they would arrive at their hotel, where they would try to get some sleep before their big exhibition the next day. For many of the members, their trip didn’t really slip into reality until later.

“It didn’t feel real until the night that we got to the lodge. And that was finally when we started really realizing like, oh, this is happening,” senior Audrey Beahan said. “It [was almost] like, we’re just going on a trip together, just a bunch of friends.”

The excitement for their upcoming performance at the conference seemed to have outweighed a majority of the anxiousness the girls might have faced. When they arrived at their residence for the night, they went into an empty area and ran through some of the more difficult parts of their set. While any extra practice would have benefitted the group, they needed to save their voices for the following day. Junior Analiesa Hollowood felt like that was one thing she wished she would have changed.

“I would have been nicer to my voice the days leading up because there were points where my voice cracked because of all the times we did runs,” Hollywood said. “I think all of us are so excited [that] no matter what we did, we were still pushing more than we should have.”

But when it was actually time for the girls to perform, everything seemed to click into place. For 23-and-a-half minutes, the girls sang their hearts out, trying to impress their educated audience. However, these ladies have practiced for years and done numerous rehearsals and performances to reach such a high level within FHC’s choir program. Beahan commented on why those in chorale perform smoothly.

“The cool thing about especially being at chorale’s level is you’ve been trained to [focus on] the director, and listening to the people around you… like there’s the audience behind you does not exist,” Beahan said. “…because you have to be emotionally connected to the music, you have to make sure that you’re responding to what Baird is doing dynamically and stylistically.”

Connecting someone’s voice and training them to understand and react to their director’s actions and cues is no small feat, and often takes years to fully refine those skills. Though the vocalists have immense pressure to present themselves in such a great light, the role the director plays is equally as important. Choir Director Elisabeth Baird had six months to prepare the ladies for their long awaited-for performance at MMEA, and after they finally performed, she was overwhelmed with pride.

“I just want to brag. I had so many people come up to me after the conference or at the conference after… because all the kids went back Thursday night. And then Friday, all day, people just kept coming up to me like oh my gosh, your girls are just amazing. But the crazy part is nobody said the same comment. Everybody picked out different amazing elements,” Baird said. “[That] shows the overall caliber of the performance, there wasn’t just one amazing thing.”

The audience that the girls performed in front of consisted of educated musical professionals, which makes their reactions even more astounding. Once chorale finished singing, the large audience stood up and gave a two-minute standing ovation, which was a joyous moment for the girls. Beahan and Hollowood both gave some insight into the emotional extremes the ladies felt after performing.

“I was standing up there trying not to cry because it’s something that has been so long in the making. And it’s such an emotion that we all went on with each other to get to this point, it was insane,” Beahan said.

“[For me] it was like an out of body experience, almost seeing everyone be like ‘Oh I did this. We did this. We made this happen.’And then as soon as we got off that stage into a bank area, we were all just holding each other and sobbing and [expressing] our happiness,” Hollowood said.

“Dr. Arnel and Mr. Harris were sitting in the front row so they were right there. They were there from the beginning and it’s really nice to see that,” Beahan said. “We are incredibly lucky to have such a supportive administration.”

Since the performance has happened, the girls have immediately moved onto practicing for their state competition held by MSHAA, on Mar. 10. Even though they have immediately moved onto their next challenge since MMEA, chorale has definitely been riding their high from their grand performance.

“It [might not have been] a competition, but we’ve been fighting this fight for six months to get here and we did it,” Hollowood said.

It [might not have been] a competition, but we’ve been fighting this fight for six months to get here and we did it.

— Analiesa Hollowood