At 7pm yesterday, the school auditorium was packed with friends, families and students celebrating music at the Fall Chorus Concert. Choral director Evan Ayars is excited that students had an opportunity to perform songs that were not included in the Chantilly Choral Pyramid Concert earlier this year.
“As this is our annual fall concert for the entire program, every choir performs,” Ayars said.
Each teacher-directed group sang three pieces and the entirely student-led Acapella Choir performed as well. Because the Acapella Choir is an extracurricular club, they were not showcased in the Pyramid Concert so this was their first performance of the year.
“I’m in Women’s Choir as a Soprano I,” freshman Julia Chesnut said. “The atmosphere is really fun and friendly. I like seeing my friends perform, especially my favorite song, ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’.”
Perfecting the songs is not as effortless as it may seem. There are many challenges to overcome before a piece is performance-ready.
“It’s been a good experience,” Sophomore Wade Burnette said. “As a Bass I get to hit all the low notes. The most difficult thing is probably memorizing the music because Mr. Ayars goes over all the different parts and you have to stick to yours whether you have the melody or not.”
Devoted students commit hours of their time to the choral program, and strive to perform their best not only in class but also in rehearsals during CT and after school.
“In a dress rehearsal we discuss which choir is going to go at what time and rehearse our songs for the concert,” Sophomore Taylor Hunt said. “I’m in Chamber Chorale and we practice every time we’re in class. Mr. Ayars tell us what’s new and which songs we should be preparing for.”
Students connect on a personal level to the songs they perform, and the artistic expression of singing can be a source of catharsis.
“There’s one song called ‘Flander’s Fields’ that we’re going to be doing in the Veteran’s Day concert next Wednesday,” Hunt said. “It’s really special to me because it reminds me of my great grandfather. He was in World War II.”
Chorus is a social experience for students, with its own niche that people of all different backgrounds and skill sets feel comfortable in.
“I get to meet a lot of unique people and do something I love,” senior Sarah Burkholder said. “I also like the dresses here much better than at Rocky Run. The dresses we have are really flattering on everyone.”
Burkholder was in the choral program in middle school and this is her second year of chorus at Chantilly, singing Alto I in the Women’s Choir.
The social aspects of being in a music program extend to performance time. To sound cohesive the members of a choral group need to blend well, both literally and figuratively.
“You have to get the songs memorized by the deadline, but you also have to sound good with the rest of the class and not just focus on yourself,” Chesnut said. “Mr. Ayars helps us figure out what we can do better and fix the problems.”
One of the most critical aspects of a strong chorus is maintaining a director-student relationship based on mutual respect and communication.
“Choir is a very friendly and welcoming environment,” Burnette said. “I think Mr. Ayars is a great teacher. He isn’t very strict so a few of the freshmen think they can take advantage of him, but that’s really not the case.”
Ayars knows his students are eager to learn and improve.
“It’s challenging to get all of the pieces learned, but the kids always seem to rise to the occasion,” Ayars said. “A lot of time management depends on where the group is. I want to pay attention to those pieces that need extra time, but not neglect the other pieces. It’s a balancing act.”
Yesterday’s concert was a spectacle demonstrating the talent and passion of the Chantilly choral department. Despite all of the factors necessary for a performance, there is no place these musicians would rather be.
“I wouldn’t do anything else,” Ayars said.