September 17, 2020

The Choir School isn’t missing a beat

Staff member, Hunter Rigsby

The two octaves and four strings of a ukulele. A five-gallon paint bucket turned upside down and used as a drum. These aren’t the symbols most people picture when they think of The Choir School.

But when Artistic Director Elizabeth Lenti handed down plans for the fall curriculum, the introduction of ukulele and bucket drumming made perfect sense to Garrett Law.

“You start to feel the music when you play an instrument. It’s such a tactile thing, where singing is kind of taking a note from the air. So you can feel what C Major is like. And that rewires your brain and I hope that will help kids with their understanding of music,” Law, The Choir School’s assistant director said.

“You’ve got Anglican choristers playing ukulele — it’s such a dichotomy. But a part of me really thinks that’s what The Choir School is. We’ve got these giant choir nerds [the staff, he says], but we’ve got artists, we’ve got people who play other instruments, and I think it just shows the creativity of the staff and the choristers. We’re not just Anglican choir. It’s not so one-dimensional as many think we are.”

“There’s still beauty. There’s still choral music. Nothing is going to change that.”

It even has Garrett asking why we’ve not done this before. It fits the program, he says, because The Choir School has always been anchored by a broad sense of music education.

“I think our kids are exposed to the whole gamut of music and I think we’re capable of anything we’d want to do. We draw from so much. We’ve got church music, we’ve got spirituals, we’ve got classical, and a lot of jazz,” he said, humbly adding that “we kind of can do it all.”

In a season that will undoubtedly be different, certain things are pretty much the same. That’s because the organization’s always had a robust music education curriculum and has always been there for our students, forming a tight community that Garrett says is more critical now than ever.

“In a world that is so challenged, I know that we give people hope. There’s still beauty. There’s still choral music. Nothing is going to change that.”

As to how The Choir School adapted, perhaps bucket drumming is a fitting metaphor.

“We didn’t miss a beat. We’re still going, on the same page. Same rhythm.”

Story by Geoff Yost ’08

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Attending a Concert

Whether you’ve been attending Charlotte Choir School concerts for years, or this will be your first time, we want you to enjoy yourself and support our singers as a comfortable member of our audience. Here are some frequently asked questions about the concert-going experience that may help.

When do I applaud?

Our choirs love an enthusiastic and appreciative audience, so we encourage your applause. Please hold any applause during short pauses between movements or sections of longer pieces. Once a complete piece has ended, your applause is greatly appreciative. A standing ovation for our final curtain call is always appreciated, too!

May I bring food and beverages?

Food or beverage is not permitted in our main stage venue, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Please respect the sanctity of our founding partner’s worship space.

What if I arrive late?

Concerts begin promptly at the announced starting time. Latecomers and those who leave the venue before or during a work will be seated at the first appropriate break in the program.

When should I arrive?

Please consider how long it will take you to park, walk to our venue, check in, and have a moment before the show to familiarize yourself with the program and relax. We suggest you arrive at the venue at least 20 minutes before showtime.

Can I bring my cell phone or camera?

Yes, cell phones and cameras are allowed. However, we require that you turn off all cell phones, cameras, pagers, beeping watches, and other electronic devices before the performance begins — and that you check to see that they are again turned off after any intermission.Audience members may take photographs before and after the concert. Please note, however, that no photography or recording of any kind is permitted during the performance. Anyone seen using a camera, smart phone, or other device for these activities will be asked to leave.

How long are your concerts?

Our main stage concerts are about 90 minutes and are generally presented without an intermission.

Where do I get my tickets?

Tickets are sold on our website and all tickets are delivered by email to the purchaser. We do not have a will call, and your ticket (printed or on device) must be presented for proof at the venue.

Where do I park?

For main stage concerts at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church or First United Methodist Church, free parking is provided in the TransAmerica Square parking garage on Seventh Street. Enter on Seventh just west of Tryon and bring your ticket with you to the show for validation.

What should I wear?

You’re Uptown for a concert in Charlotte — have fun! But there’s no need to stress. Business or business casual works for all main stage concerts. Most importantly, we want you to be comfortable.

What if I know nothing about choral music and your repertoire?

That’s okay! We perform sacred and secular choral music with a repertoire that features a mix of accessible, familiar choral works, and some pieces you may not expect. You don’t need to know anything about our repertoire to enjoy our concerts. We will publish the concert program in advance, with information about the composers featured and pieces to be performed. We’ll also include links to Spotify and Apple Music where you can hear some pieces in commercial recordings. Elizabeth Lenti, our Artistic Director, also offers program notes from the stage with information on what to listen for in a piece.