MUSIC VIEW: Cazenovia’s Chamber Choir
Spreads Holiday Cheer
BY EDWARD BENNETT
There’s a pile of Santa hats stowed away in the choir room at Cazenovia High School — but not for long.
The members of the school’s select vocal group, Chamber Choir, will soon take their pick at the hats and don them when they sing at various spots around Cazenovia. The holiday concert tour, Santa hats and all, is a yearly tradition.
“We sing between 12 and 15 performances in the month of December,” said Teresa Campbell, who heads up the high school’s music department. This is her 13th year directing the group.
“I know that the students look especially forward to these performances,” she said. “They improve each time we sing at a new venue and are very strong by the time we get to the Christmas break.”
The group, which consists of 14 students this year, sings all a cappella music. “They learn a great deal about the discipline involved with performing and about the responsibility of being in a small ensemble where each person plays a significant role,” Teresa said. “It is challenging to sing without accompaniment and the students learn to listen carefully and to balance their voices.”
By singing without a piano, the group can perform virtually anywhere. You would be hard pressed to find a locale in Cazenovia where they haven’t sung holiday tunes.
“I think it’s the excitement of singing together, for new audiences and in different locations, that keeps them going,” Teresa said. “They realize their full potential and really bond with one another. I also treat them to lots of snacks and encourage them to stay hydrated and rested.”
She said it’s also a chance for them to give back to the community.
“The community is very supportive,” she said. “We tend to get invited back for the same events each year and always get many positive comments when people hear the group. The students view these performances as a service they can provide.”
The singers are very dedicated, she said, and fun to be around, which makes her job all the more rewarding each year. Most of the students sang in the NYSSMA solo festival in the spring and will attend Area All-State at Ithaca College this winter. Two of them, Jessy Silfer and Kyle Johnson, were selected to sing in NYSSMA’s All-State Choir in Rochester in December.
The Chamber Choir is preparing several a cappella selections, from various styles, cultures and time periods, to sing around Cazenovia this holiday season. They’ll perform everything from 16th century madrigals to contemporary jazz. Some songs have a holiday-theme, while others are simply fun and festive sounding.
In the past the group has performed at the Cazenovia Lions and Rotary clubs’ holiday dinners, Elmcrest Children’s Center in Syracuse, the Cazenovia High School Senior Tea, the Cazenovia Senior Association Holiday Luncheon and on Big Mike’s Sunny 102 Christmas Broadcast, to name a few.
Your best chance to see them perform will be at the annual Cazenovia Christmas Walk Tree Lighting ceremony, which will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, in front of the First Presbyterian Church on Albany Street.