There is no place that the vocalists who comprise the Huntington High School chamber choir would rather be than in their rehearsal room with teacher Victoria Garbarino.
The choir room is a home-away-from-home for the teenagers, who all love to perform and who never fail to make a lasting impression on their audience. With schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chamber choir has been thrown from its regular routine and the vocalists can’t wait for the world to return to normal.
“I was really heartbroken that my choir wouldn’t be singing together for quite some time, so I started thinking and remembered that composer and choral director Eric Whitacre does virtual choirs,” Ms. Garbarino said. “I had seen a few colleges do it as well, but the songs were all a bit melancholy. I thought about the repertoire that my kids had and Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ song seemed like the perfect fit. It’s fun and upbeat and sends the message that no matter what, our group can still have a good time.”
Ms. Garbarino took her idea and ran with it. “I made an assignment on Google Classroom for students to listen to the backing track and record themselves singing along with it playing in their headphones,” she said. “After that I sent all of the videos off to Sarah Biernacki, our Alto I section leader. She used Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the video. It was very tedious and took her several hours to create. Once it was together we shared it to the public and the next thing we knew it was being played on News 12.”
Choir members jumped at the opportunity to work on the project and the finished product was nothing short of inspiring. The official video of Queen’s 1978 hit song has been viewed more than 565 million times on YouTube.
The Huntington chamber choir’s video is starting to catch up to Queen. As of Monday night, more than 3,600 views had been recorded. Click on this link to view the video: https://youtu.be/OLzYAuclmcE
“I am so proud of how the choir has handled this awful situation,” senior Abby Semelsberger said. “We had been rehearsing ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ since September and wanted to do something during the quarantine so we all recorded our individual parts! It was so cool to see everything come together and it just goes to show how resilient this remarkable group is. Sarah Biernacki edited the whole thing and did an amazing job. I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
Like their high school counterparts, the Huntington vocalists are proving just how resilient they are. “I believe the choir is making out very well,” sophomore Ashley Genao said. “We are keeping in contact with one another and making sure everyone is doing okay. I feel it all came together very well and we hoped it brought a smile to the whole community during these tough times.”
The virtual performance was just what the chamber choir needed. “I think the reception of our video surpassed everyone’s expectations,” sophomore Ally Kustera said. “It was incredible to see everyone on News 12. It was the next best thing to actually singing with everyone in class.”
The vocalists are soldiering on with the rest of America. “We are all doing fine,” senior Zubair Ali said. “We are all staying in touch through our group chat and checking up on each other. To be honest, we weren’t expecting to be on the news; it was a quite pleasant shock! We are all so thrilled with the positive response. It took a lot of videos and tries and hours to edit, but a wonderful result!”
Ms. Garbarino and the teenagers are a tightknit group. “Chamber choir is above all a family and it’s tough to be away from each other,” senior Keenan Lyons said. “But we don’t let that faze us. Ms. Garbarino approached us with the idea and Sarah Biernacki had mentioned she could do the editing. We all loved it. We each independently recorded our part and put together a ‘virtual choir.’ I’m so proud of everyone’s passion and commitment during this difficult time. We will remain strong!”
Above all else, the vocalists are staying positive. “The choir family has actually been very upbeat and supportive,” senior Robert Jean-Gilles said. “We are in contact with each other daily. Now in terms of the video, I am really surprised about how well it came out. Those that edited the videos did a great job with everything! I’m really proud of everyone.”
Being able to perform, even virtually, was an uplifting experience for the choir members. “This really brought my group together during this difficult time,” Ms. Garbarino said. “We are used to spending so much time together that it’s very sad not being together making music. We hope that this lifted everyone's spirits. It definitely lifted ours.”