Striking Their Own Chord


Walking into room 211, choir director Ken Foley greeted all his students with a handshake and smile. He shook everyone’s hand in the four choirs — freshman, gender choirs, choraliers and chambers.

But each choir was different from the others. Each choir had their own personality.

When the second hour bell rang, 35 sophomore boys entered the room, ready for another day in men’s choir. They were the ones who would push each other around, but when Foley said it was time to learn the notes and choreography to “If I Had A Moustache,” they focused on the music.

“I’ve always tried to teach guys that it’s cool to be in choir,” Foley said. “Being a guy and being in choir just goes together pretty well because we are just trying to express words.”

As the sophomore boys left for their third hours, 63 sophomore girls grabbed their marron folders full of sheet music. When the bell rang, they sang from the first note in the school song to the last one in “The Song of Merriam.” They wanted to talk with their friends and snapchat their WPA date, but they knew they needed to focus on the music for 50 minutes. 

“We’ll work on a song for a whole block period until we get everything,” sophomore Ava Chinnock said. “Then we’ll run it, and if there is still one missing part, we will do that the next class.”

And when fourth hour started, Foley stood in front of 90 freshmen. He watched the girls look over at the tenor and base section. He knew the boys weren’t singing as loud as they could, worried about what others might think of them. 

That was the typical freshman choir attitude.

But this group focused on learning and finishing their songs. At the beginning of the year, Foley taught them the basics, how to blend their voice and use websites to learn notes. He taught them that choir was a learning process, but if they stuck with it, they could eventually be part of choraliers.

“What we get done is what we get done,” freshmen Andrew Alka said. “The more we get accomplished the better we feel.”

When the bell rang for sixth hour choraliers to start, Foley stood on his podium, looking out at 122 juniors and seniors. A group that could split into eight parts during “Nyon Nyon,” while singing as loud as fortissimo or as soft as pianissimo with their large numbers. A group that sang “Go You Gotta Go” to their basketball teammates on gameday. They were a team, working together to create one voice.

After the choraliers left to go to seventh hour, the 24 members in chambers stayed behind for another 50 minutes of singing. They arranged their chairs in a circle, sitting in assigned seats based on their part. Instead of just singing at concerts, they did gigs outside of school. They gave up part of their school day to sing the highest levels of music. Because of that, they grew to be a family.

“The group chemistry and the way we work together, it’s unsaid,” senior chamber member Daniel Hammond said. “It’s all in unison, and it’s all perfect which is really cool.”

During the winter concert, the gender choirs made their way out into the crowd. The freshmen filed onto the risers, with the choraliers and chambers standing in front of them — all one group. The piano played the first notes of “Hallelujah.” The many singers started singing.

And it was all one voice.