On Thursday, December 7th, audiences witnessed the collaboration between the San Mateo and Burlingame High School choirs in their “Season of Song” at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center. Director Shawn Reifschneider put together an incredible concert, making history for the San Mateo High School District Music Department by directing Franz Schubert’s Mass Number 2, being the first major choral work done by the music department. The concert also featured songs composed by musicians from the “Romantic Period” and incorporated several seasonal favorites as well. This concert was exceedingly different compared to the previous concert, named “The High School Years,” which featured many timeless tunes of the 80’s.
Audiences saw some of their holiday favorites performed live for them, including Carol of the Bells, The Holly and the Ivy, Let’s Take a Sleigh Ride and several Nutcracker jingles. Not only did the choirs perform at exceedingly high levels, they also performed several songs in other languages.
Reifschneider also sought to stick to choir tradition by having the combined efforts of all the choirs join together to sing Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. Also included in this classical piece were choir alumni and other members of the audience familiar with the piece. The concert also featured the talents of San Mateo High School’s orchestra and alumni, Dan Chiapelone’s percussion.
“The music that we have chosen is very difficult,” Reifschneider said.
The choral work was made up of six movements, taking roughly 20 minutes to complete. There were eleven solos featured during those six movements, which would typically be filled by the voices of professionals. However, according to Reifschneider, “our students have stepped up to the plate to perform their solos.” The difference between the two concerts has radically changed, the past concert having been focused on pop music which required a different sound than the choral work.
And while we may be rivals on the football field, there appears to be no rivalry in the choir department, as the two choirs came together to create a flawless and overwhelming sound. Reifschneider often says to his students that, “when we make music together, we are better,” indicating that the choir department is able to overcome differences to pull off a spectacular performance.
Junior Ryan Cheng finds performing with the choir to be an incredible and unforgettable experiences, which every student should get involved in. Singing in the choir has helped him overcome his fears of performing and he has come to look forward to singing solos for concerts.
“It doesn’t matter if you are good at singing, bad at singing, singing in the shower, singing in the car, singing professionally, it doesn’t matter, you should always try it,” Cheng said. “Mr. R is a great teacher and you will feel welcome in choir.”
The choir will be performing again on February 17th at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center and will present their “Wonderful World of Song”, featuring popular Disney songs. The Concert Choir and Chamber Singers will also accompany the other members of the music department and be going on tour to Disneyland.