Bristol Eastern choir shows the world its best stuff

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
Last month, 24 representatives— singers and chaperones— from Bristol Eastern High School’s Madrigal Singers, A La Mode, joined 362 other choirs from around the world in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the Seventh World Choir Games.
A La Mode was invited to attend the competition last year, and it participated in the “open category called Mixed Youth Choir” with 25 other choirs from across the globe. The Bristol Eastern High School choir was the only participating choir from New England and took home the Silver Diploma. The choir was judged on intonation, fidelity to the score, and overall artistic impression.
Michael Coderre, music director for the group said this was the first time the group had attended the competition, which was being held in the United States for the first time.
“It was something unforgettable and well- organized,” Coderre said. “I could see how the event changed the outlook on music the students have (especially after seeing choirs from around the world compete).”
Mikaela Boutot, 15, said she has been singing all of her life, and wants to pursue a career in the music industry some day. She said attending the World Choir Games was an inspirational experience and something she will never forget.
“To have been able to be a part of the World Choir Games as a freshman was amazing,” said Boutot, adding she and the rest of the choir met other students from all over the world. “One of my favorite parts was definitely being able to watch some of the other choirs sing also, going to the opening ceremony was great, I never really comprehended the magnitude of people that were involved in this competition until it was all laid out in front of me.”
The World Choir Games is a biennial event where choirs from around the globe compete in 30 categories, including pop, folklore, and “musica sacra.” Coderre said there are two categories, professional and amateur, for the competition. A La Mode competed in the amateur category. However, Coderre said his students were able to see professional singers while they attended.
“We watched professional choirs compete and the level of expertise and skill made quite the impression on the students,” Coderre said.
Heather Nielsen, 22, is a former student of Bristol Eastern and a former singer in Coderre’s Madrigal Singers. Coderre had opened up the invitation to participate to former and current students, and Nielsen said she “jumped at the opportunity to sing at such a prestigious event.”
She said the whole experience was “incredible” and because the singers share a love for music, they all made friends very quickly.
“It was a privilege to hear world renowned groups perform live for us,” she said, adding that a group of the Bristol singers were brought to tears while listening to a Chinese men’s choir who sang sacred music in an old chapel. “Performing on the world stage, and seeing so many diverse groups perform along with us was an unforgettable experience, whether we came home with a medal or not.”
The college student is in the process of earning her master’s degree and Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said she “gained a lot of perspective from this trip. The world is very big, but made much smaller and more manageable by common goals and a love of music,” she said.
Coderre said the event brought the groups together, and the camaraderie among the groups was more noticeable than the competition.
“The audiences were very gracious,” he said, and many of the choirs would go watch the others perform and support each other.
Coderre said the event is an invitation only event, however he said he is under the impression that the group will be invited back again.