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West swings to the beat of laughter, cheering

By Emily Pyle
posted April 20, 2011

On Tuesday, April 5 the ears of Osh-kosh were serenaded as the choirs partnered with the MacDowell Male Chorus, based in Appleton, to create a melodious harmonization of pop culture music. Each year, the choir puts on a “Pops” concert, straying away from the classical genre of music and replacing it with songs more eminent to the general public. Director Herb Berendsen chose to focus on the top hits from the 60’s to more recent years in an attempt to deeply connect with its modern audience.

“I always try to have one concert a year where we can really focus on relating to the audience and portraying a complete picture not only with our voices but with our bodies,” said Berendsen.

This transition presented unease to the choirs as they shifted from the familiarity of classical music to the unknown, mysterious world of last century’s most popular songs.

“It was a bit of a transition and really focusing on the visual aspect was a stretch for some, to be free when they are singing and not just standing there,” explained Berendsen.

For the students, this transition proved to be easier than expected due to the lyrics and melodies which are so relevant to their everyday lives.

“It was easier to feel the music because pop music is more relatable,” senior Alexis Dammann said.

Connecting with the songs came with ease for these young artists due to the chemistry between the choirs.

“I know when you get up on stage its hard to get excited because you are so nervous,” senior Kate Rosenbaum explained, “but it was nice seeing everyone interact with one another so we could interact with the audience.”

Needless to say, the song selection for this year’s concert was spot on. The assortment was chosen with extreme precision as Berendsen picked the best pieces to fit the voices and styles of his choir.

“I got probably about 50 or 60 pieces of music and I just went through them,” he explained. “There are a lot of arrangements of pop music out there.”

It was not only the song choice that sparked the interest of many audience members, extra spice was added to the concert as the gentlemen of the MacDowell Male Chorus graced West with their distinguished voices, a choir with ages ranging from 18 to 80.

“I liked watching the older guys, just to see how into music they still were at an older age and how much fun they could have,” said Dammann.

Berendsen led the choirs in high school as well as the MacDowell Male Chorus. Rosenbaum watched how he shaped the voices and performing techniques of these men just like he shaped high school students.

“I thought it was really fun seeing how [Mr. Berendsen] works with other choirs and seeing him direct them like he directs us. I also liked seeing many different people loving music even at such an older age,” she said.

The success of the concert was displayed through the overwhelming reaction given by the audience through the numerous instances of cheers and laughter.

“We had a great audience. It was very responsive, back and forth between the singers and the audience,” explained Berendsen.

The concert’s success continued to radiate through the student attendees as they relived the excitement. Senior Zayde Contreras enjoyed the event.

“It was a lot more interesting and more outgoing,” he said. “A lot of the song [selections] were mixed, like how they integrated older songs with modern songs.”

The final outcome of the concert proved to be a triumph.

“I was really proud that we did so well and it was a perfect way to end my senior year,” Rosenbaum said.

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Barbershop sings “Happy Together” by The Turtles at the Pops Concert on Tuesday, April 5. Directed by senior Josh Lyons, the Barbershop also sang “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede later that night, making the crowd sway and sing until their riotous applause during their bow.

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