By Nicole Greco
Like so many famous performers in history, the Randolph High School Chamber Choir was “discovered” on the streets of Manhattan. An improvised rehearsal caught the ear of a producer at Fox News Channel and the students were invited to return and make their television debut.
Each year, the choir travels to New York for a day of caroling and sight-seeing. The day begins in Bryant Park, and the group of 26 students ranging from grades nine through 12, make their way up 5th Avenue in Midtown stopping along the way to sing for passersby and culminating with a “mini-concert” on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
During the excursion, the choir sees a Broadway play. Last December, they arrived early for the show and ducked into a breezeway that “looked like it would have great acoustics,” according to choir director Matt Swiss. So they stopped to sing.
They hit the right notes at the right time- their songs drifted to the windows above and caught the attention of producers from Fox and Friends. They came out to the sidewalk to meet Frank Perrone, Randolph’s district supervisor of visual and performing arts, and talked to the student singers. Later that day, the producers asked Perrone if the choir would perform on the popular morning show and preparations began for their appearance with no time to spare.
“As a performer, musicians always look forward to performing in front of a live audience, this performance in front of a live national audience is one that our students will never forget,” said Perrone, “They were provided the experience of what it is like as a performer to be given a performance opportunity that needs a quick turnaround in preparation and rehearsal time.”
The producers were so impressed that they invited the students back for 2016. Once again, the students had to have their music camera-ready in short order.
“The singers got the music three days before the show; they learned it mostly on their own at home and then we rehearsed in class the next two days,” said Swiss, “They worked hard to learn the music well and that gave them the confidence to be really in control of their nervousness.”
Niesen ratings for Fox and Friends averages 1.25 million viewers a day, not bad for a group of kids who only expected to carol for about 100 people at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“The morning of the show was surreal- waiting in the greenroom as the professional production unfolded around gave them an amazing taste of the industry and fueled their excitement,” said Swiss. “By the time we got outside [onto the plaza], the students were ready to sing with joy and enthusiasm.”
This year’s medley theme was “Christmas Around the World” featuring traditional songs. It lasted a little more than a minute but created memories that will last a lifetime. For those who missed it, or want to hear the choir again, the next choral event will be Cabaret Night on Feb. 3, and the musical “Annie” on March 17 & 18. For tickets and information, visit rhs.booktix.com.