Spring-Ford sings at Kimmel Center


Submitted Photo

The Spring-Ford Vocal Ensemble prepares for a featured performance at the Kimmel Center during the Philly Pops Concert on December 12.

By Brian Lynch, Business Manager

They’ve done it.

After years of rejection, Spring-Ford’s Vocal Ensemble finally won the famed B101 Christmas Choir Competition.  

The Vocal Ensemble, led by teachers Yvonne O’Dea and Joe Perry, starts work on winter pieces in September and practices up to five day per week.  This selective choir group focuses on technique and fundamentals of proper singing, along with perfecting challenging pieces.

The victory was especially memorable for graduating seniors of the Vocal Ensemble.

“After they announced the Spring-Ford Vocal Ensemble [won] all of us just lost it screaming and cheering,” Devi Spletzer said. “We all worked so hard for this and to finally accomplish this meant so much for the group.”

The Vocal Ensemble enters a piece in the competition almost every year, but O’Dea is very careful on her selection.  She never aims to compromise the quality of her choir with traditional holiday tunes, rather submitting a song prepared for the annual winter choir concert.  When Spring-Ford earned a spot in the finals with Angel Medley, the choir was ecstatic.

“There was a little doubt, but never much,” junior tenor Nick Hyden said.

O’Dea kept the choir inspired, staying confident and full of hope on the last day of the competition before results were released. Despite all this, the reaction of the choir when results were released was priceless.

As a result of the win, the Vocal Ensemble received $5,000 and a featured performance at the Kimmel Center during the Philly Pops Concert on December 12.

The performance was one students and teachers would not forget.

“Everyone was super nice and supportive, it was incredible!” senior Brooke Henshaw said. “And on stage after we preformed having over 3000 people applaud for us and stand up… it was surreal and life-changing and I’ll never forget that feeling.”

The Philly Pops are known for their talent and creativity during shows, earning a highly regarded place in both the music world and the hearts of Pennsylvanians.  It was no surprise to see the group had a sold out show on the 12th, but it certainly blew away the Spring-Ford community.

One of the most acclaimed features of the venue was its actual structure.  The Kimmel Center was constructed in the shape of a cello to maximize sound within the space, but the hallways provided an unforgettable echo.

“When we finished singing our first song, the echo of us bouncing throughout the whole building was so amazing,” senior Peter Boretskii said. “I just turned to Owen next to me and smiled.”

Especially after all the previous attempts.

“Since we had been doing it for so long and we had never won, it was like the whole experience had finally come full circle,” Lucas Merdinger said.

“It was a very emotional and almost unreal for all of us,” Caroline Burns added. “I’m so proud of this group.”

And it was, in fact, a group effort.

“We all achieved this huge accomplishment together, and I’m equally proud of all of us and will never forget this incredible experience,” said Jess Grazioso.

And Spring-Ford now finds itself in a pretty special club.

“All those winners we hear about on the radio seem like, celebrities– not people that live in our own community,” senior Lauren Dougherty said. “But winning made me realize that all those other choirs are just normal kids, with a musical passion, trying to survive high school.”

In addition to having this opportunity to perform at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, in April, the Vocal Ensemble will be traveling to New York City with the Choirs of America festival and will be performing in Carnegie Hall.  The prize money from the competition will be used to help defer a significant portion of the cost for the students.

“Winning this competition is not only a testament to the talents and dedication of our students,” O’Dea says, “but it speaks to the dedication and support that the community gives to the music program.”