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Singing the extra note for a lady

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The all male group Acafellas are being joined this school year by the new all girls group Ladies First, and absent Sue Sylvester and Mr. Scheuster, it’s as close to “Glee Club” as Central is going to get.

“[Ladies First] is run through the music department and provides an outlet for students who are interested in some type of singing/show choir experience,” said Mrs. Jennifer Burkemper, music director and fifth year director of Acafellas. Burkemper explained that Ladies first is not a core class, but rather is an extracurricular activity.

Unlike other choir groups at Central, Ladies First will include a variation of songs, including pop and Broadway numbers filled with opportunities for solos. “It will provide students with an opportunity to sing regularly and do more contemporary music,” Burkemper said.

In previous years, students have strived to create a choir group similar to Ladies First. The idea of creating a glee club for girls has been around since 2003, the same year that the Hinsdale Central Show Choir was formed. According to Mrs. Pam Kalafut, Student Activities Director, the beginning of the 2003 Show Choir ignited a cycle of creation and disappearance of a girls’ singing group.

Kalafut remembers the first time she was approached by a student interesting in starting such a club. “A girl named Lucy Richter came to me with her parents, and they wanted to start show choir. Lucy worked very hard to have it be a successful group. They really wanted to see it go,” Kalafut said.

However, as the club began, Kalafut said she saw student participation decline greatly. From then on, instances similar to those of the Hinsdale Central Show Choir continued to occur up until last year.

“Two students came to me last fall and wanted to start glee club, and I said ‘awesome,’” said Kalafut. However, once again, the club fell apart. “These kids came for glee, and next thing I know, there’s no glee,” Kalafut said.

Kalafut noted that the reason for the rise and fall of a glee club or show choir ensemble at Central is due to the lack of a sponsor. “Every couple of years I’ve been trying got find a new sponsor because the students want it,” Kalafut said. In past years, the music department hasn’t sponsored various glee clubs and show choirs. Due to time commitments of both the sponsors and students, all past clubs failed to gain foothold.

This year, the music department is assuming the role of a sponsor. While the music department is running the choir group, however, Burkemper emphasized that it will be primarily student-led, while she directs vocals. “It’s always been very student-driven,” Kalafut said. Such student involvement will require that they create and teach the choreography to fellow choir members.

Between past glee clubs and Ladies First, there have been similarities. “This is similar to a glee club in that it’s a bunch of kids who love to sing and perform and are willing to put in extra time outside of school to do so. The addition of choreography pushes it more and more towards the glee club feel,” said Jill Pocius, a junior who made the show choir.

Although there are similarities, however, there are a couple distinctions that separate it from a typical ‘glee club’. “It isn’t quite a glee club because we aren’t considered a show choir. The emphasis is still placed on the vocal side of the group and the choreography is something new they are trying,” Pocius said.

While the idea of a glee club at Central is not new, the new organization under the music department is treading an uncharted path. For one, the music department has previously emphasized vocals more than choreography; however, in light of the contemporary feel, choreography will be used. “If any obstacle were to come up, it would probably involve the choreography,” Pocius said. “Because there was no dance audition to get into the group, we will have a wide range of talent. While everyone in the group can sing, we might need some extra dancing rehearsals.”

With the addition of the girls group also comes the partnership of Acafellas. “At Jingle Bell Java in December, Ladies First and Acafellas will perform a holiday or pop tune together,” Burkemper said.

With these new practices, the singers of Ladies First show only excitement for the new season. “Maybe eventually it will turn into more of a full blown show choir feel, but for now we are just singing our hearts out and adding a bit of choreography to liven things up!” Pocius said.

On the same note, Sarah Nolin, junior, said that she is looking forward to “hearing how we sound this year. We have a lot of talented new members and I can’t wait to see the dynamic.”

Burkemper said, “I’m excited about this group and the opportunities it will bring to girls at Central.”

 

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The news site of Hinsdale Central High School
Singing the extra note for a lady