Closing the songbook: The year winds down for PV choirs and seniors say goodbye

Senior+choir+members+stand+with+their+choral+directors+and+pianist+at+their+final+concert+of+the+2020-2021+school+year.+

Grace Engstrom

Senior choir members stand with their choral directors and pianist at their final concert of the 2020-2021 school year.

Anna Thorne, Arts & Entertainment Editor

As the end of the school year is beginning to wind down, so are extracurriculars. Activities such as choir have been a huge part of many of these teenagers’ lives.

Due to the pandemic and a need to implement guidelines and safety measures, choir and similar activities have been presented with many challenges. As a result of these difficulties, the choral activities this year have had to make many adaptations.

For a majority of the year there has not been a live audience, and choirs have had to perform at separate times instead of one cohesive concert. This was the reality until the district choral festival in February, the jazz concert, the recent large group festival and the awards concert. 

All of these have had some sort of audience, as well as have allowed the choirs to perform together in some arrangement. Due to the increase in vaccinations and other circumstances such as CDC guidelines shifting, these activities were deemed safe to partake in. 

Despite all of these challenges, this year has been quite impactful and memorable for many seniors. It has not resembled normal choir years in the slightest, but it has still managed to leave a lasting impact on students. 

The most recent occurrences for PV choirs include the state large group competition on May 8 and the choral awards concert on May 10. 

The large group competition was the first choral activity of the 2020-2021 school year that resembled a similar format to a normal year. Each choir performed select musical pieces for three three experienced, well-trained judges. They were then given ratings based on their performances and guests were allowed to watch in the audience. 

The choral awards concert was comparable as every PV choir was able to perform in the gym with an audience as well. Although it did not appear until the end of the school year, these were some of the most normal performances the PV choirs had been able to experience all year.

At the awards concert seniors were honored and awards such as “Most Valuable Member” were distributed. These moments allowed for many students, specifically seniors, to feel as if they made an impact and fostered connections within this abnormal senior year.

For the senior choir students, these last moments have felt more than bittersweet. Closing out their high school choral careers in such a unique time in their lives has been interesting for many to say the least, but it has allowed them to reflect on the moments they cherished most.

Senior Lydia Cox has been involved in choir since she was in sixth grade, and although she is ready to move into the next chapter of her life, she has enjoyed being able to make as many memories as possible.

“I am very proud of what we have done this year, given all of our challenges. This year’s choir is the best one I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. Both talent wise and just as a community,” Cox explained. “I enjoyed the way we managed to still create bonds between us even though we weren’t allowed a lot of the things that really make the choir feel like a family.”

Cox has achieved many reputable accomplishments for the PV choral department. But for her, the most important part of her entire career as a PV choir member has been the experiences she gets to look back on with the people she has grown up with.

“It was so incredible to tie for ‘Outstanding Senior Vocalist’ at awards night with Ben Curran. He is one of my best friends, so getting to share that with him was incredibly special and something I am very proud of,” Cox reflected. “Not because it’s an award, but because I got to receive that with someone who means so much to me.”

Creating these memories and bonds with people has created a lasting impact on many seniors. Cox is not the only one who felt as though the difficulties of this year allowed for singers to grow closer through struggle, as senior Gabe Johnson feels similarly. 

Throughout the challenges this year posed, students such as Johnson were able to thrive in a new environment.

“Although this year was challenging in its own unique way, I feel like I have grown as a singer just as much as, if not more, than any other year. Because we were all spread out I was forced to sing a little more secluded, and that enabled me to hear myself more,” Johnson explained. “As a result I was able to focus on myself as an individual more than in years past.”

The growth Johnson felt this year did not come without struggles or disappointment, but he has been able to look at the bigger picture and focus on the experiences that allowed him to prosper within adversity.

“Being able to participate in large group festival was one of the first bits of normalcy that I’ve been able to experience this year and I was glad that it happened. Although I am sad that it is all coming to an end, I’m glad that I now have something to reflect on in the future,” Johnson digressed.

For the department as a whole, the setbacks experienced this year have been unlike anything they have ever had to face before. Creating experiences which foster a memorable and impactful environment for students was a difficult task for the choir directors.

Seniors such as Cox and Johnson recognized these difficulties, and through immense disappointments, they were able to find peace in the closing of this year. Although it was nothing like they had all expected, the end of this year provided a notable goodbye for the seniors and the choir department as a whole.