The Cleveland Choir Rocks the First Concert of the Year

By Shelton Bowman, Copy Editor

The Cleveland choir department, led by new choir director and teacher Allison Bassett, kicked off the year with a delightful performance at their annual Harvest Festival Concert On Thursday Oct. 18.

The choir put their full hearts into their performances and took advantage of the entire auditorium, beginning with “Hlonolofatsa,” a South African greeting song. The choir engaged the audience by singing not just on the stage, but along the aisles.

Over the course of the evening, the choir sang 17 songs, including an individual performance by Brody Kreiter and a group performance by Mia Moore, Celeste Baird, and Hannah Crenshaw.

The choir utilized pieces from all around the world. Some were sung in English while others were in Italian, Japanese, and French.

“As an educator, part of what you are supposed to be doing is providing students with a variety of learning experiences when it comes to vocal literature,” said Bassett. “I’m looking at a variety of time periods, genres, cultures, languages, styles, and things like that, as well as songs that address the skills my students need to work on and build.”

Before every piece, a choir student would explain the meaning behind it and its significance to them personally. They sang old pieces, but didn’t neglect the new, even performing an original mash-up by Bassett herself. The two songs, “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men, wove together perfectly and seamlessly to create something original but familiar.

Overall, the choir did an outstanding job. The energy on stage was positive, and the passion that the choir students felt was truly infectious. “I really felt connected with everyone because we’ve done a lot of bonding,” said Mia Moore, junior. A lot of this, explained Moore, was due to the influence of the new choir teacher. “Mrs. Bassett is an amazing choir director and she’s really passionate about music. She understands how to work with students, and she understands that in order for us to grow we need to be pushed.”

This year, Bassett has worked to stress the importance of trust and community within the choir department. She’s done this by planning social events for students to get to know each other. She’s also made an effort to ensure that everyone feels included. One way of doing this has been by changing the names of a few of the choirs within Cleveland. The choirs that were formerly known as Delles and Dudes are now known as Nova Basso and Nova Altus.

“Instead of saying ‘Dudes’ and ‘Delles,’ which are very gender specific names, the choirs got to select new names,” said Bassett. “This way it’s more about your voice and less about your gender. If you can sing that voice part, then you can be in the choir. I think that builds community and a more open space for anyone to feel welcome.”

The Harvest Festival marked the choir’s first concert of the year, and Bassett said that it couldn’t have gone any better. “The choirs were really supportive of each other and energy was really good. They all did wonderfully,” she said.