LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Performers who have already won their share of “international” acclaim will take center stage Friday (Dec. 19, 2008) at 7:30 p.m., when Pottsgrove High School conducts its annual holiday band and choral concert in the school auditorium.
A total of 70 students – members of the high school Concert Choir, and the advanced singers of its Choraliers – performed a selection of eight pieces Nov. 25 (2008) in the lobby of the UN Building at First Avenue and 42nd Street on Manhattan’s east side. Choir director Cynthia Foust says this was the third consecutive year the groups played the Big Apple on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
“It’s an opportunity for us to sing in a remarkable venue,” she says, “and its a wonderful time for the kids. They really love it.”
Preparing for the trip was no easy task. Students spent weeks of long hours in practice, sacrificing what might otherwise be fun with their friends. They rose early that Tuesday to ride the bus into New York and perform, and they endured a rigorous check under the pleasant but nonetheless serious supervision of UN security guards.
Foust describes that as an adventure in itself. “You never know what you’ll be able to take in, or not, because of the security concerns,” she notes. Fortunately the choirs’ karaoke machine passed muster, and they had recorded musical accompaniment on several selections.
Marcy McGuigan, a New York resident and noted Broadway performer who is an aunt of a choir member, was on hand to videotape the performance. One number, the choir’s fabled four-part harmonious rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was posted the following day on YouTube.
The United Nations’ setting was majestic but also somewhat of a challenge, according to Foust. “The acoustics there were really unusual,” she reports. “There were times when we couldn’t hear ourselves.” The performance was superb, though, as evidenced by the applause of passers-by who stopped to enjoy it.
In previous years, the choirs have also performed at New York churches and cathedrals. The trip was arranged by a Foust friend, Bruce Rickert of Peak Performance Tours in Newtown PA.
After their UN debut the students toured its Secretariat building, watched a meeting of its General Assembly, and then took in a Broadway show.
The high school holiday concert in years past has played to a packed house in Richard J. Radel Auditorium, 1301 Kauffman Rd. Get there early; it’s free and open to the public.
- Editor’s note: This story is an update to “Filling The UN With Song,” published Dec. 11, 2008, in ‘The Post.’
Photo by Eric Ortner