Broadway Masterclass

Written By Taylor Ward

Last year, the CG Choirs went to Broadway. This year, Broadway came to the CG Choirs.

On Friday, Feb. 24, New York actor and musician Kyle Riabko visited Center Grove to conduct a masterclass and Q&A with the students. Riabko kicked off the afternoon by singing a few songs by Burt Bacharach, composer of famous songs such as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” and “Close to You.” The Broadway performer accompanied himself on guitar.

The actor and singer’s performance credits are numerous, including a lead role in the original Broadway cast of Spring Awakening, a major role on Broadway in Hair and a recurring appearance on the hit TV show 90210.

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Broadway performer visits CG Choir

Riabko was brought in through an organization called The Cabaret. Located in downtown Indianapolis, The Cabaret brings in Broadway stars and working musicians to perform songs and monologues at their venue in the city. Recently, the organization has been seeking to provide local musically-inclined students with an opportunity to meet and learn from real, working show business professionals. Their mission: “to elevate and promote the cabaret art form by presenting the finest in professional cabaret performances and developing the next generation of cabaret artists.”

After singing for the students, Riabko sat back and watched CG Sound System perform a number from their competition show. Once they had finished, he was highly complimentary, saying, “now I understand the wall of trophies.”

A couple of students also performed their own solo songs, including senior Adrianna Goss. Singing “Vanilla Ice Cream” from the musical She Loves Me, Goss said that “it was cool to show him some of the talent that makes up CG choirs.”

The excitement did not come without its nerves, however.

“I was a little nervous because I had seen him in one of my favorite TV shows, 90210,” said Goss.

Mr. Riabko provided plenty of performance advice to the choirs, but perhaps his biggest point to the students was this: “Always be performing. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, keep performing. It’s a gift you have to share with the world.”

Student Arranges Music For CG Choirs For First Time in CG History

By: Taylor Ward

Photography: Noah Barajas

Wilson Smith sings a solo at a choir competition. While Smith has not been able to perform at every show this year, he has found another way to make sure he is involved year-around in his passion.

Wilson Smith sings a solo at a choir show. Smith now works behind the scenes for choir productions to make them the best that they can be.

Many students involved in Center Grove’s performing arts program participate in behind-the-scenes preparation for productions, such as building sets, assembling risers and crafting costumes. But no student has ever helped with the actual creation of the show’s content, like writing scripts or arranging music…until now.

 

Wilson Smith, a junior, holds the distinction of being the first student at Center Grove to help arrange music for the choral program. Until this year, the sheet music for each song was put together by staff members. Now, Smith assists choir directors Jenn Dice and Jared Norman and the principle accompanist and arranger Greg Sanders with compositions.

 

“My job is to write the different voice parts for the choir,” Smith said. “I look at the melody line and try to figure out different harmony parts that support the melody line and create one really awesome sound.”

 

Smith helps arrange music for all of the high school choirs, including competition music, which is kept secret from choir members until the directors decide to reveal it. Despite this special knowledge, he is not involved in song selection.

 

“I just do what Mr. Sanders and/or Mrs. Dice tells me,” Smith said. 

 

The process of arranging music is multi-layered, and requires preparation before it can really begin.

 

“The first step in arranging or rearranging a song is to create a roadmap. Basically, a roadmap is to an arrangement as an outline is to an essay. I try to put all of my ideas onto a piece of paper, organize them, and work from there,” Smith said.

 

As involved as he is in the process, Smith says that much of the arranging is still done by staff member Greg Sanders.

 

“I sort of serve as his apprentice,” Smith said. “I still have a lot more to learn about music theory.”

 

Smith says that his favorite piece to help arrange is Sound System’s second competition number, “The World Turned Upside Down,” a medley of songs from the Tony award winning Best Musical Hamilton.

 

Smith also holds another special distinction in the choral music program at Center Grove; he is the only student with “perfect pitch.” This allows him to immediately know how each pitch sounds, so he can give starting notes to the choir.

“It definitely makes it easier to arrange, read, and understand music,” Smith said about his ability.

 

The gift is rare. Some studies show that only one out of every ten thousand people hold the ability to hear pitches without error. Smith uses his gifts to assist the choir directors as best he can.

 

Starting on a Fresh Note

By: Riley George and Gabby Burgett

After countless hours of hard work by over a hundred construction workers working with a $3 million budget, the new music area in the basement is scheduled to be available for student use after winter break.

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View of construction from the choir room door.

Outside door 6 in the basement, construction has been on going since March 16. Behind the boarded-up doors, yellow tape and “Do Not Enter” signs is the production of a new choir area with new classrooms, practice rooms, lockers and a new hallway.

 

“There are going to be new rehearsal rooms both upstairs and downstairs in the choir room with pianos in them for students to use in addition to the classroom space,” Assistant Principal Jake Short said. “The band ones will also be inside the classroom so they are moving from outside in the hallway to inside the classrooms.”

 

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View from inside the music department construction.

Input with staff in the music department created a space that they will be able to utilize and benefit from.

 

“We were able to encompass a lot of what we needed down there,” Short said. “What we needed was a new space because orchestra and percussion are sharing a space right now. Having them in one [room] limits a lot of what they can do. Having those conversations [with the staff] really helped our architects [discover] what they could put together with our budget.”

 

The new music area incorporates everything that the different music departments will need to perform and practice with the extra practice rooms and larger rehearsal rooms for each department. Students will be to practice more flexibly, smoothly, and effectively than they have been able to in the past with these new additions.

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View of the music department construction from the outside.

“My goal is for when the students are performing, you can’t tell there is construction going on,” band director Kevin Schuessler said.

 

The music department has not let the construction and loss of rehearsal space get in the way of rehearsing and performing. The students and directors have pushed through the noisy distraction caused by ongoing construction.

 

“I’m excited for having more space to do what we do now because it is really cramped in there. During STaR

View from the door of the current practice room for choir and band.

View from the door of the current practice room for choir and band.

there will be two to three groups trying to practice so when there is more room it will help a lot,” junior Emma Matei, a member of Accents Choir, said.
Construction in the choir area is making progress and is on schedule for finishing on time. Both students and staff are hoping to start next semester on a fresh note.

Singing and…Running?

Most people associate staff member Jennifer Dice specifically with music classes, but many are not aware that she has another particular interest, running.

“I started running in college, I actually ran track in high school and by ‘ran’ I mean I ran to somebody’s house and ate during practice and then came back, I hated running” Dice said.

Despite her dislike of running in high school, her opinion has since changed drastically.

“I started running in college and began to love it, and it was really a way to keep off the freshman 15 but then it sort of turned into an addiction.”

Dice has continued to run ever since, even taking part in the Boston Marathon in both 2005 and 2009. Her fastest run, however, was in 2011 when she was the second female to cross the finish line of the Carmel Marathon with a time of 3:25:47. Interestingly enough, as she neared the finish line in this race, she grew tired and slowed down to a crawl. She was about to stop, but at just the right time a biker rode beside her and gave her what amounted to a pep talk to keep her running; he would not let her slow down.

While Dice was thankful for the support, she said, “At the time I wanted to kill him.”

As the years went on, Dice’s love of running has extended past her own personal running. For five years, she helped coach the varsity girls cross country team with Wes Dodson, but had to stop after having children. She does, however, train with the team from time to time.

“I run with them occasionally, I’ve been a little more consistent in doing it a couple times a week,” she said.

Dice strongly encourages those who want to try out running to just go for it.

“You don’t have to just be in high school to run, you can be any age. There are tons of races every weekend, just pick one. I would encourage people to start with something small and set a goal, just go after it, once you’ve completed one, you get a sense of satisfaction in that you’re likely going to be compelled to do another one,” Dice said.

Dice fully acknowledges the irony in that running was once an activity she hated in her time in high school, only for it to turn into an “obsession” in her college days.

“I would say you try something once and maybe you don’t enjoy it but try it again later in life and see, because you just never know when things may click at that moment and it just works for you.”