Choir Performs Pre-UIL Concert

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  • Gabriel Paredes ’23 sings a solo during ‘Dulaman’. The traditional folk song was a part of the Varsity Men’s set for their upcoming UIL competition.

  • Concert Women sings their UIL songs for the audience. This group is the beginner women’s choir, consisting mostly of freshman girls.

  • The men in Chorale Mixed clap as part of one of their pieces. The group consists of the Chorale Mixed choir merged with the Concert Men.

  • Tuning her violin, Anna Wicker ’20 prepares to play alongside Mr. Stephen Maus. They provided accompaniment for one of the Chorale Mixed’s songs.

  • Assistant director Robin Harwell prepares to speak as head choir director Andre Clark fixes the microphone. This is her first year teaching at Westwood, and she conducted some of the choirs’ pieces.

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The choir program gathered at Hope Presbyterian Church on Thursday Feb. 27 for their Pre-University Interscholastic League (UIL) concert. The choirs performed songs which are a part of their UIL program for their parents as well as the Round Rock High School choir directors to get feedback on their pieces. 

The concert began with Chamber choir’s performance, who uniquely sang  three a cappella songs. The first song was a French renaissance piece called Si le Coucou en ce Mois by Clement Janequin. The piece itself emulated the sound of a bird, with the word “coucou” constantly popping out. The next piece was Best of Rooms, a beautiful, flowing piece which required a lot of breath support on the choir’s part. Their set ended with Cantate Sing to the Lord. While a challenge because of the heavy emphasis on the male voice parts, the song also gave Chamber an opportunity to show off the diversity of music they can perform.

“I like Cantate Sing to the Lord because it’s really high energy and fun to sing,” Ashley Howell ‘21 said. “That’s probably one of our stronger pieces. We’ve worked really hard, especially on refining and blending together. We came together as a team instead of just a bunch of soloists.”

Following Chamber was the Varsity Men, consisting of tenors and basses from all choirs and grade levels. In preparation for UIL, the choir had been meeting during flex to practice their music. Their first song was a lively Irish folk song named Dulaman, with Gabriel Paredes ‘23 as the soloist. Second was There is Sweet Music Here, a soft, touching piece based on a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson. Their set ended with the bombastic Zion’s Walls, a piece written in a round like fashion, with different parts and words constantly overlapping over the ends of others. 

“Being able to sing with a group of other amazing male singers taught me a lot about myself and what it’s like working with a higher level choir,” Paredes said. “I realized how important it is to be part of a team and that no part is more important than the other. I also really enjoyed singing the solo in [Dulaman]. The song was really fun to work on and I enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Irish culture in doing research for the song.”

Chorale mixed choir took the stage afterwards, combining the Concert Men choir with the usual Chorale class. They sang My Heart’s in the Highlands, a sweet and melodic piece with violin accompaniment. After a rendition of Sweet Day by Ralph Vaughan Williams, the choir members sang Ritmo. This song was distinguished from the rest with snapping, clapping, and stomping interspersed throughout the piece. Second to last was the Concert Women choir. This group delivered beautiful renditions of Lunar Lullaby and Shenandoah, a classic American folk song. Both pieces fit the girls’ voices perfectly, giving an impressive showcase of their vocal ranges and abilities. The concert concluded with the Varsity Women’s pieces. After singing through the complexities of Tantum Ergo, the group sang Kadrilaulud. The song consists of four movements, and the choir members sang three of them. While learning to sing in Estonian was a challenge, the end result ended up being a stunning, haunting piece. The set was concluded with I Am the Wind, a rousing and complex piece of music, ending with a high note that seemed to cut through the church halls.

“We worked really hard on perfecting certain parts of the songs with key changes and some difficult chord progressions,” Mary Skelley ‘21 said. “We had to put a lot of feeling behind them and try to sing the songs in the way [they] were intended.”

Before wrapping up for the night, the directors’ fan clubs gathered to tell the audience about how much they appreciated the directors and gave gifts to Ms. Robin Harwell and Mr. Andre Clark.

“Director’s fan club is a group of people who at every concert take time to say thank you to our directors because they do so much for us,” Neal Gandhi ‘20 said. “As a member of [Harwell’s Narwhals] it’s been a really great honor to be able to thank her for all the things she’s done for us. Through this, we are able to tell everyone how much the director’s mean to us and how we appreciate the work they do for us and the entire program.”