Meet Drexel graduate Michelle Wall '09 who sings alto in the Festival Chorus which performs with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops Orchestra. Michelle explains how she got involved in the chorus, what goes into preparing for the show, and what guests can expect at this year's December 15 Holiday Pops performance.
How did you get involved with Holiday Pops?
I've been a member of the Festival Chorus for five years now. Jeff Kern, Head of the Vocal Department at the University of the Arts, where I work, is the director of the Festival Chorus. Jeff knew that I sang in college and that I majored in music education and he suggested that I audition for the chorus – so I did.
Can you tell readers a little bit more about the Festival Chorus?
In order to be in the chorus you have to be able to read and hear music very well. This year's Festival Chorus is very large at 130 members. Students as well as people in the community audition for the chorus, and its members range from high school students to adults in their 50's and 60's.
How do the Festival Chorus and the Philly Pops Orchestra prepare for the show?
Peter Nero and Jeff Kern always meet to discuss the music for the performance. The Festival Chorus has about eight rehearsals leading up to the concert. Beginning in mid-October, they take place every Tuesday night from 7 to 10 p.m. It's not until a few days before opening night that the chorus and the orchestra actually practice the songs together in two dress rehearsals.
What is your favorite thing about performing with the Festival Chorus?
I love it because it's not something a lot of people get to do and performing with a world-famous orchestra is very exciting. Several of my students at the University of the Arts are in the chorus with me and this helps me get to know them on a different level.
What type of experience can guests attending the show expect to have?
I would encourage alumni to come to the performance because it's a great way to kick off the holiday season. It's fun and relaxing and really puts you in the mood! As musicians on stage we are all doing what we love to do, so our emotions and excitement are genuine and the audience will be able to feel that.