The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Monday May 20th

TCNJ Choirs break conventions with TCNJ Rocks On! 2.0

<p><em>The College’s Choirs and Vintage Feedback came together to give us a taste of some of the classic rock hits that defined the 60s up to the early 90s (Photo by Isabella Darcy / Arts &amp; Entertainment Editor).</em></p>

The College’s Choirs and Vintage Feedback came together to give us a taste of some of the classic rock hits that defined the 60s up to the early 90s (Photo by Isabella Darcy / Arts & Entertainment Editor).

By Chiara Piacentini
Staff Writer

The Kendall Hall stage was fully occupied on April 20 by both a choir and rock band, which graced the platform with a smattering of smoke to mimic the atmosphere of a rock concert. The College’s Choirs collaborated with classic rock band Vintage Feedback and 11 other student instrumental performers in its performance of TCNJ Rocks On! 2.0. 

The ensemble clued us in for a wild ride by starting with their rendition of The Who’s “Who Are You.” The stage came to life with a pair of singers bursting from the doors on either side of the stage. Dancers busted it out in the aisles of the auditorium as well, while the chorus sang the main line of the track, “Who are you?” 

It was professor and Director of Choral Activities John Leonard’s idea to have the College’s Choirs go rock. 

“[TCNJ Rocks On!] started out as an idea I had to have the Choirs sing a set of three Van Halen Charts — ‘Jump,’ ‘Why Can’t This Be Love?’ and their amazing cover of ‘Dancing in the Street,’” Leonard told The Signal in an email. “Our goal was to create an authentic ‘Rock Concert’ experience and arrange the charts in a way that honored the original versions and artists.”

Since choirs typically stay on the choral side of things, Leonard saw this show as an opportunity to be different.

“No where that I know of does anything like this — combining choirs with a live rock band on stage,” Leonard wrote.

With a demanding set in terms of choreography and verse, the most difficult bit to master, especially when you’re on the clock, was “getting the choir to memorize all the music in such a short rehearsal time,” as Assistant Director Heather Mitchell put it.

On top of that, Leonard and the other rock band members decided to put a more inclusive spin on this year’s performance, which made the show that much more complex.

For this year’s rock concert, Vintage Feedback members Steve Thompson, Jason Thompson, music arranger Terence Odonkor, Leonard and keyboardist José Beviá “planned out a set of music that intentionally had better representation — more female artists, LGBTQ+ artists, gender-non-binary artists, Latin, Motown, rock n’ roll, and even country,” Leonard wrote. “We also wanted to honor musicians that had passed away in the last 2 years — Tina Turner, for example.”

As planned, the ensemble’s renditions of Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” the playful Latin Icon Medley, which went from “Latin 1-2-3” to “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” to “Conga,” and Dolly Parton’s haunting smash hit, “Jolene,” were just a few demonstrations of this inclusivity.

Each song’s performance resembled a game of karaoke as the lead singer changed hands between verses. “Jolene” was an exception with only one female singer bearing the responsibility of recapturing the emotion of Parton in this track, with a lone guitar as her companion. 

“I wasn’t sure about the rock n’ roll theme at first, but I ended up really liking it,” sophomore music education major Amelia Phillips said. “It wasn’t something I expected to be doing in a choir, but it was great to see how people embraced the theme and I was able to hear people that I’ve only ever heard in a choral context performing in a completely different style.”


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