To be in one of the two Deerfield a cappella groups, there are several requirements beyond just the music . With other commitments and time constraints, the chorus requirements seem to provide a roadblock for some, while others believe that the requirements demonstrate the musician’s eligibility and dedication.
Currently, in order to be able to perform with the Mellow-D’s or Rhapso-D’s, one must participate in the 90-minute Deerfield Choral Society rehearsal on Sundays, and be enrolled in an ensemble class such as Chorus, Chamber Music, or Band, unless they have already completed two years of the academic chorus class. This has created conflicts in some students’ scheduling, and therefore has limited the courses they can take.
Some students believe the requirements make it difficult to balance time for work and other commitments. “Deerfield Choral Society (DCS) can increase stress because Sunday is the only day we as students don’t have any commitments.” Andrea Piedrahita ’15 said.
Annie Blau ’13 expressed how this also creates a problem for new students in older grades. “Newer students are at a disadvantage,” she said. “As you get older and your work load increases, you need free periods. [DCS] is a huge obstacle in the week. I wake up planning my day around it, and it makes things a lot more stressful.”
Although chorus is a time consuming commitment, Emma Witherington ’13, leader of the Rhapso-D’s, recognizes the benefits. “To a certain extent, a year of chorus is helpful. I didn’t make the Rhapso-D’s sophomore year, and was advised to take a year of chorus to refine my singing. Chorus gives [singers] necessary direction, especially for people who have never had training,” Witherington explained.
Sidney Hulburd ’14 agreed. “Having chorus this year was not at all bad for me. I actually think I improved a lot as a singer. I just really wish that it was less of a time commitment.”
Some students feel that the Rhapso-D’s and Mellow-D’s should be left as a completely student-run group. In the case of Blau, she was asked to leave the group for missing DCS rehearsals, but has since been allowed back in. “I know I should have been there…it just seemed the punishment didn’t fit the crime,” Blau said. “Each voice is critical because [The Rhapso-D’s] is such a small group. It wasn’t just punishing me; it was punishing all of us. I take singing very seriously and it’s what I love to do the most. And I wasn’t going to be able to do that for my last month at Deerfield.”
Performance availability has also caused tension. “Every group is different. Rhapso-D’s learn two to four songs per term, and are only given one time slot to perform. Everyone should be able to showcase all of their hard work. It’s not fair to the performers and the people collaborating to create this music.” Witherington said
Although these events have produced many mixed emotions among participants, the choral department is making an effort to make the requirements more efficient and logical regarding everyone’s schedules.
Next year, the groups that are now The Madrigals and the Chamber Singers will merge into one advanced choral ensemble. This group will meet as a co-curricular in the winter only, and will be open to all student singers through auditions, and possibly instrumentalists. DCS will still meet on Sundays and Chorus will be offered as an academic class, but will no longer include Sunday rehearsals next year. In order to participate in any of the a cappella groups, students will choose from all three options.
“By being in a faculty-led ensemble, the students are getting professional level teaching which benefits the quality of the [respective] groups. In turn, it helps to have advanced singers in the larger groups as teachers and leaders. It’s a mutual give and take,” Music Director Daniel Roihl said.