An End to a Successful Year for the Choral Arts Society

Springtime for the Malden High Choral Arts Society is always an emotional time. Between the tours to every elementary school, the time spent preparing for MICCA, a competition between schools and their choirs hosted by the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association, and the spring concert, Cole’s choir certainly has their hands full. 

For the seniors, every one of these events would be their final time participating as graduation loomed. Mixed thoughts and feelings were shared from joy and sadness as many seniors came to terms with the fact that with each passing event, their time was slowly running out. 

As the second semester began, the Choral Arts Society began preparation for their tour of the Malden Elementary schools. They would be performing for students across each school with hopes of recruiting rising freshmen into the program. 

For most, it’s a good way to catch up with where they left their elementary school after going to Malden High. For the seniors, it’s a nostalgic melancholy moment as they knew it could very well be the final time they visit the place they grew up in for nine years before leaving early as the pandemic swept through.  

“I thought the tours went extremely well. I thought they ran like clockwork… I would refer to it as a well-oiled machine where we’re in and out. Everyone knew what they had to do. I wasn’t scrambling,” said Todd Cole, teacher and leader of the Choral Arts Society. 

He went on to describe how fun tours are and how compared to the rest of the year it is relatively low stakes so each choir class was able to let loose and enjoy themselves. At the time of this article, Cole is expecting about 45-50 rising freshmen to join the mixed chorus, which could double the size of the previous year. 

“Tours are… a better way to connect with others,” said senior James Song. “Sure, a lot of middle schoolers might make fun of us due to the fact that we’re singing and they think that’s boring. But once we start to show them the songs and the fun things that we do and what we can do, it might grab people’s attention and that’s what allows us to connect with others through music.”

Song went on to describe how tours also furthered his understanding of his classmates as he got to see the school his peers grew up in, and the whole choir could share experiences of their youth that they may not often talk about. 

For senior Alyssa Chung, she uses tours as a way to catch up with her past teachers and meet her siblings’ teachers as well. 

“It really meant a lot to me to get to see those teachers for the last time and get to give him a hug,” she said. 

After the final tour, the choir had to now set their sights on MICCA. Cole had set his expectations but made sure to push the choir as far as they could with a slew of challenging songs. 

“We had a good amount of time to get everything done,” said Emma Spignese-Smolinsky. She continued saying how Concert Choir and Madrigals left everything they had out on stage, resulting in a high silver for Concert Choir and a medium silver for Madrigals. 

“I think I gave it all I had and it’s a part of me; choir is a big part of me; it’s actually my favorite part of being in high school,” said Kaite Bai. 

As MICCA resolved, the choir then turned their attention towards the spring concert, a climax of all their work done throughout the year. For seniors, this would be one of their final major assignments. For others, it was a reminder that their time was running short and the year would be over soon. 

Preparation for the concert went swimmingly well, as the choir recycled pieces from MICCA while adding some challenging but rewarding pieces. One such added piece was “Summertime” arranged by Mark Hayes, which spread the choir quite thin, with nearly each section having a different musical aspect to carry. However, when the concert went underway, all effort paid off as the harmonious sound created by the choir blew each and every spectator away. 

Halfway through the Madrigals section of the concert, Cole stopped the show to give an acknowledgement to Junior Natalie Keating. Keating had always wanted to be a part of Madrigals and was hoping for space to open up in her senior year.

“Then it happened to work out that the period that I have Madrigals my teacher was out for months so I just asked Mr. Cole, if I could just start coming.” Cole said yes and so Keating went on to learn all the Mdrigals songs. “And then eventually I asked, ‘Hey, because I know all the songs can I sing with you guys at MICCA’ and Cole said Sure.” 

“I really wasn’t expecting him to shout me out during the concert, so it really took me by surprise. It was really nice because I did put a lot of work into it and it was a really cool experience,” Keating said. 

After the Concert Choir finished “Summertime” Chung descended from the risers to present Cole with a heartfelt gift of a picture of the seniors, lined with meaningful notes from each, detailing a happy memory they had with Cole or the choir. 

“That meant more to me than the world,” Cole commented. He continued to describe Chung’s speech and the senior gift saying how “for her to write such kind words and such kind thoughts and share such a personal explanation of the gift mean everything.”

Afterward, roses were handed out to each senior, a traditional and a meaningful gift. Once every rose was handed out, Cole gave a speech of his own detailing his pride and hope for the choir but also his sadness of the seniors leaving. 

The seniors then took to the risers. Some cried, others smiled and laughed, but everyone raised their voices to sing the final song of the concert, “That’s Life” by Teena Chinn. 

Cole gave a final message to all seniors in his classes, “You’ve got a home here. Always feel free to come back and visit because when you come back, you feed us energy, we know you still care and we know that we can’t let you down. So always feel free to come back, recharge your battery, and share stories.”

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