Carlos Aragon also contributed to the article.
With the coming of the holiday season, the Malden High Choral Arts Society recently held its first annual Winter Concert since 2019, as it was held digitally last year.
The concert was divided into three sections, Mixed Chorus, Madrigal Singers, and the Concert Choir, with each section performing a variety of different holiday-themed songs.
Concert Choir Singer and Senior Krista Micalizzi stated that one of the biggest challenges this year was wearing masks during the concert. “Everyone was getting frustrated because we couldn’t be loud enough, or some people couldn’t hear.” Choir Director Todd Cole agreed that wearing masks was definitely an adjustment for all of the singers. “The masks eat up consonants, and when you’re singing, you’re singing stories, so the audience can lose a lot of those stories if they can’t understand the words,” he explained. Figuring out how to “get the stories to the audience given this barrier” was the biggest challenge for the choir overall.
In addition to wearing masks, Micalizzi said that the song “Silent Night” was slightly challenging since it had been so long since they had performed it. “I think we were able to pull through in the end with Silent Night,” she concluded. “It was something we all remembered and were able to click with.”
In the weeks leading up to the concert, the choir was planning on singing the song “8 Days of Light”, however, the song didn’t make the show in the end. Cole explained that “8 Days of Light” is about 15 pages long, and overall “a really challenging, difficult piece of music.” Micalizzi also added that “we had to speak Hebrew in the beginning, and that was definitely difficult for us to remember,” along with concerns involving time constraints.
Concert Choir Singer and Senior Lucas Williams stated that he felt as though the buildup to the concert was much more nerve-racking than the actual concert itself. “Obviously there were times during the concert where I felt nervous because I had to make sure I had my parts right so my section could hear me… but the only nervousness I saw in other people were memorizing parts, like ‘Oh Holy Night’, or the pitch we had to sing for certain songs.”
While some of the choir singers were somewhat nervous before the concert, Cole mentioned that “If anything, I noticed an excitement that we actually get to perform again for an audience.” The choir at Malden High had not performed at an in-person concert in almost two years, and much of their nervousness also translated to a visible excitement. “It brings me so much joy…it’s what we do, it’s what we rehearse, it’s our whole purpose, and they were so excited we got to do a winter concert this year.”
Williams had his shining moment during his solo for “Saw Through Ships.” Williams stated that he was glad he could have a solo as “you’re typically not chosen for them if you’re not a senior,” and “even though it was really short I was really happy that I did it before I left for college.”
Concert Choir and Madrigals Singer Senior Mateus Flaherty has been in choir for two years, and was excited to finally be able to do his first solo as well for “The Chanukah Song: We Are Lights” along with Senior Yusra Tafaroui. He didn’t find many of the songs difficult in terms of preparing for the concert, and instead found that his “solo was definitely the most difficult part.” Although he was nervous beforehand, he was “proud of the whole concert” and says it all came together in the end.
Flaherty agreed that everyone was also “excited” the entire time while performing, including himself. Cole further explained that this year, “I did not notice nerves so much, not even with my ninth graders. I think that they were so prepared that they were excited to do it.”
During the concert, Cole described that there was so much to do building up to it that “I am so concentrated on not [messing] anything up because it’s a big responsibility.” Along with his main job of leading the choir overall through conducting and queuing people, he was also able to join the Madrigals Singers in their performance of “Fum Fum Fum“ and “Carol of the Bells”. Looking back, the concert is “always a blur” to him, and “suddenly it’s Thursday morning and I’m cleaning and moving risers back to my room, and I always say ‘where did those three days go?’”
“I was really proud of the kids,” Cole concluded. “I think that they did a wonderful job, especially coming off of a year of almost no choral singing.” Although it went by fast, all of the songs came together beautifully in the end, resulting in a successful night for everyone.