Class: Select Singers
Grades: 10th, 11th, and 12th
Teacher: Michael Sansoni
Our Honors choral ensemble, Select Singers, performed “Hymn of Axciom”, virtually. Listen to the performance—and read how it all came together—below.
The process was new for us, and it definitely involved a steep learning curve, but I’m so proud that, in this difficult time, the students created something so beautiful.
A Q&A with choral teacher Michael Sansoni
How did this virtual performance come together?
As soon as Select met up (virtually) after Spring Break, we all agreed we needed to find ways to keep singing! I saw how excited everyone was to see each other, and I knew that the work we did needed to involve as much cooperation and group work as we could infuse it with. I created guide tracks that students could play in headphones while they sang so that they would all sing in the same tempo. Then, students worked in sectional groups to check each other’s progress and uniformity—it was important, for example, that we didn’t have one student in the alto section singing very loudly while everyone else was singing softly. The students were able to give feedback to each other using Google Meet. Draft recordings were then sent to me, which I also gave feedback to. Finally, each student submitted a final track of the full song that I mixed down using GarageBand.
Why did you choose to perform “Hymn of Axciom”?
Before we left for Spring Break, this song had already won a special place in our students’ hearts. It was arranged for us by the illustrious Ms. MacFadden, and it has a very compelling subject: it’s a love song sung from the point of view of a database lifting data from your internet usage, and using it to know you better. It manages, like a lot of the most powerful music does, to strike a powerful contrast between two opposites: in this case, a comforting musical atmosphere and a frightening text. Not to mention it’s beautiful! Picking this song was the easiest part, I think.
What has it been like teaching chorus virtually?
One of the most emotionally powerful moments for me during the pandemic so far was listening to the performance after I mixed it down. It was so lovely to hear all of Select singing together again. The only thing that topped that was playing it for the class on the seniors’ last day, because I got to see in the Google Meet how much making music still means to our students as we listened to their work together.
- Celebrating Seniors: watch a video dedicated to Select Singers in the Class of 2020