Danvers High School band, choir fusion
DANVERS — Danvers High School’s choir and band programs have become one in recent months, creating the Danvers Music Department. The merger aims to strengthen the two programs, which in the past often had overlapping participation and needed to balance their offerings against each other’s needs.
“We hope to perform together and appear together at the same thing,” said choir director Alex Grover. “Where are we going to try and get the band to play where the choir sings. For the most part, we try to do all of our events together; for example, whenever we travel, we go together. Even if we have separate events , we try to help each other during both.
The pandemic limited what programs could do separately and dampened the amount of energy students brought to their performances. However, with the new normal rapidly approaching, that energy is beginning to return.
“As a performer, you look forward to playing for people, and last year we had none of that,” said band manager Jeff Daniels. “It hurt morale a bit, so we really tried to make sure we got a lot of performances lined up. We’re pretty much back to full strength with performances and even added performances that we didn’t have. never had before.”
Planning over the past year has been difficult for both the band and the choir.
“We didn’t know what it was going to be like,” Grover said. “The student energy was extremely conflicted. On the one hand, we were back in person, and on the other, we weren’t sure we could do things.”
For example, the music department’s planned trip to Hawaii last December for the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor was canceled late in the planning phase.
Daniels and Grover worked hard to identify other events their groups could attend.
“Once we saw that we would be able to do these things, I think the student energy really came through,” Grover said.
Grover and Daniels were able to convert the canceled trip to Hawaii into an upcoming trip to Washington, DC and Virginia, scheduled for April 26-May 2. The band will perform at the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Fire Parade in Winchester, Va., on Friday. On April 29, the band and choir will perform at the Music in the Parks festival at King’s Dominion theme park in Doswell, Virginia on Saturday, April 30.
Skywave, the all-female high school a cappella group, will be performing at the National A Cappella Convention in Orlando, Fla., in March, and the group is gearing up for a parade in a few weeks.
“We just got invited to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Downtown Boston and South Boston, which is a nationally televised event,” Daniels said.
The department is also adding a new school concert to the schedule.
“His work name is Pop Night,” Grover said.
When it comes to bigger trips, like the previous ones to Hawaii or Walt Disney World, there’s nothing planned yet.
“I will say we’ll probably go through this Washington, DC, one, and we’ll go from there,” Grover said. “We really want to keep traveling, and it’s getting easier now that they’ve lifted the restrictions. … We definitely want to do more things, and on a bigger scale, but we haven’t talked about that in detail. We’ll start doing that this summer.”
“I don’t want to make any promises, but we’d like to do this kind of thing every two years, so everyone gets two trips if they’ve been in the band or choir for four years,” Daniels added. “That’s the idea behind it all.”
As the new normal arrives, the future of Danvers High School’s music department begins to take shape.
However, there may be something bigger brewing in the department.
“For so long, the choir does one thing and the band does theirs, and when the students see that we are one entity, one musical program, not just a band and a choir, we hope that we will end up with a plan to the future to do more gigs together and start involving middle school and even elementary schools and having a K-12 music department,” Daniels said. “I think that’s something that can make the program stronger, if we all work together: a fine arts team rather than individual entities.”
Another pressing matter has already been resolved.
“We have a new logo,” Daniels said. “The Falcon is from the original band logo and the musical notes are from the original choir logo.”
— Maddi Filip is a senior at Salem State University majoring in journalism.