Fort High Show Choir Exceeds Virtual Expectations

Fort Atkinson High School has always been recognized for its exceptional music department including its two show choir groups, Lexington Singers and South High Street Singers, led by the school’s choral director, Mr. Craig Engstrom. With altered practices and limited performance opportunities this year, it was in question as to how the group’s season would pan out. 

“This season has been a little less busy than in past years. We were lucky to have our typical rehearsals when semester two started, but our competition was less than a typical year. The biggest challenge honestly was getting used to performing with a mask. It was a good way to enforce skills like projection and expressions through the top half of the face.” states junior, Matthew Sell, a dedicated performer in Fort Atkinson High School’s South High Street Singers.

Alongside a plethora of other clubs and organizations, there was a virtual element added to accommodate the current circumstances. There were multiple occasions where performances were pre-recorded and sent to judges for assessments, as well as a special opportunity for a synchronous, broadcasted event. 

On April 10, the South High Street Singers attended a unique competition like they never had before. It was a live performance, hosted in the auditorium with a limited audience (four guests per performer) that was live-streamed. 

I was so thankful and excited to be able to perform live again. Besides performing, it was great to be able to see friends and create something together again. There is that special energy that comes from an in-person performance that can’t be replicated,” remarks Sell.

“I was so thankful and excited to be able to perform live again.””

— Matthew Sell

The night panned out much like live sports; viewers were able to see all the other choir’s shows for the first time, as well as experience commentary from hosts in between. “I preferred the live streaming competition because it was able to better resemble a real competition. There were live MCs that shared their own jokes and notes after each performance which brought that energy to the experience. It was also cool to think about the fact all these schools across the nation were watching exactly what we were. It gave us a new chance to brag about the fact we were broadcasted to LA,” exclaims Sell. When asked about his opinions on this format on whether it’s likely to return, Matthew continues to state, “Although it’s hard to reach out to new people, it’s really cool to think about how many people truly are a part of this culture, and how widespread it is. I definitely don’t see the virtual format going away. In fact, the live-streaming competition we competed in,, stated they would be back next year. I find this very exciting because of the new perspective it brings on the show choir world and making it more nationally connected. It also gives more opportunities to other groups who may have a hard time traveling to in-person competitions. However, it’s no secret that in-person competitions will stay alive, they are the heart of the show choir experience.”

All things considered, the South High Street Singers were truly able to make a tremendous season out of a year where many other music departments suffered. With the introduction of a new choir director next year, the students and community will see once again how the group will adapt to a big change and fingers crossed, with just as much success.

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