By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Just days away from the end of the academic year, the Amsterdam High School Choir recently came home with two first-place trophies from this year's competition.
Friday, the students sat in the choir room with Choir Director Pat Valiante, chatting about the experience and the excitement of the competition.
The competition was called Music in the Parks, Valiante said, and the choir participates in this almost every other year.
"It's for choruses, bands, orchestras, all different types of groups," Valiante said.
The high school sent about 70 of the 100 choir students to the competition in Holyoke, Mass. Upon arrival the students had a short time to warm up, and then it was on stage they went to get judged by two professors with doctorates in music.
The "mixed" group of about 70 sang "Bring Him Home" and "Tuimbe" for the judges and then a "select" group of about 38 students sang "Swinging with the Saints" and "The Wish."
"Everybody's always nervous for the competition," said senior choir member Xavier Aleman.
He added that the acoustics are very different in the Holyoke High School gym where they performed, so it was a fast adjustment that the students had to make once they started singing.
The two judges took audio notes during the performance, said Darren Clavell, a junior in the choir. One even judged on the students movements, facials expressions, and vowels, among other pieces of the performance. But the students didn't get the chance to hear those comments until the next day.
"Obviously we were all wondering how we did, if we did good," Clavell said.
But even though they had to wait on the comments, the evening awards ceremony said it all. After spending the rest of the day at Six Flags New England, the 14 choirs along with many other groups gathered in one area of the theme park for the award ceremony.
"Every school that participated was there at the award ceremony," Valiante said.
It was there that it was announced that Amsterdam High School won first place for both the mixed and select choirs.
The students were ecstatic.
And for every division, high schools won awards for simply their ratings.
"So even if you didn't place in first, second, and third, you did get an award that said what your rating was," Aleman said.
The following Monday, the students sat and listened to the judges comments in the choir classroom at AHS, comments that they will now be put in to play for their end of the year performances.
"I thought the comments were good. I thought the comments were helpful. And what's nice that sometimes the judges things that I say all the time and then to hear it from somebody else it validates it," Valiante said.
"And I hope that will help us make some changes for next time," Clavell added.
Next year, the students will likely head to a competition in New York City. But the trips wouldn't be possible without the support for the fundraisers, Valiante said, and thanked the community for the support.