Choir to hold “Beyond the Stars” concert

Amy Yu, Editor-in-Chief

The Palo Alto High School choir program’s annual spring concert, “Beyond the Stars,” features professional orchestral musicians and projections of visuals. According to choir teacher Brittney Kerby, the Paly Choir department hired 20-30 musicians, ranging from woodwinds to percussions, who will playing alongside student singers. “It [the concert] is more classical, but we’re pairing it with film compositions,” Kerby said. “We’re doing ‘Duel of the Fates’ from [Star Wars Episode I] “the Phantom Menace”.”
Professional orchestral accompaniment and film projections are among the features of the Palo Alto High School choir program’s annual spring concert, “Beyond the Stars,” which will take place Sunday in the Performing Arts Center.

According to choir teacher Brittney Kerby, the concert is a one-time event; it will feature Festival Choir, which includes sophomores, juniors, and seniors; Premier Choir, a freshman choir, Spectrum, a female choir, and Madrigals, the advanced mixed choir. The choirs will be singing classical songs from Morten Lauridsen, a modern-day classical composer, and John Williams, the composer of the “Jaws” soundtrack.

“While we are singing these pieces, we have hired professional orchestral players to accompany us,” Kerby said. “We will also be projecting images from the film or a visual that represents what the text is about.”

Kerby said the choirs will be singing pieces from a wide range of time periods, which inspired the name “Beyond the Stars.”

Senior Madrigal Sebastian Khairkhahan said choir teacher Michael Najar introduced some challenging pieces this year. For instance, all choirs will be singing a piece called “Lux Aeterna” by Lauridsen.

“It is a massive mass,” Khairkhahan said. “The whole piece is 52 pages and we’ve been learning this piece since the beginning of the year.”

In addition to Lauridsen, the choirs will be singing pieces from film composer John Williams such as “Hymn to the Fallen” from the film Saving Private Ryan and “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars Episode I: the Phantom Menace. They will also be singing “Baba Yetu” by Paly Alumnus Christopher Tin from the video game, “Civilization”.

“He [Christopher Tin] actually won a Grammy for this particular piece [“Baba Yetu”], which is pretty cool,” Kerby said.

Sophomores Veronica Bain, Loren Olsen, Gabriela Wilkinson and Alysa Madrigal practice the American sign language interpretation for “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.” According to Bain, in addition to choir classes, the girls all take ASL classes at Paly and have been working on this interpretation for a month. “This [interpretation of the piece] is a cool opportunity to share this culture with the audience,” Bain said. Photo: Amy Yu
The Festival Choir will be singing “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” by Tin, alongside Bain, Alysa Madrigal, Loren Olsen and Gabriela Wilkinson, who will be interpreting the lyrics of the piece into American Sign Language.

“Hope is the Thing with Feathers” was performed at Paly’s Centennial March earlier this year, but it did not include an ASL interpretation.

“Signing it will give the audience a different experience of the song,” Bain said. “It’s also a learning opportunity for us to expand our vocabulary in sign language.”

According to Kerby, this concert will be the first time the choirs have performed with an orchestra in a few years.

“It’s a different experience for the students and the audience members,” Kerby said. “It’s really going to be a magical performance.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. They can be purchased from the Paly Choir website or at the door.