By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Limitations, more spacing, mask and lower numbers was more than a virtual reality for Millington Central Middle High School Choir Director Leah Thomas.
The 2020-21 school year was a challenge for all instructors across the world facing new guidelines. Thomas’ emerging music program was increasing momentum until March 2020.
Having to pick up the pieces and adjust, Thomas invested her time and love of music into her current group.
Forgoing a fall concert, Thursday night was finally the time for Thomas and the students to pull back the curtains on the 2021 Winter Concert “A Night to Remember.”
“It was purposeful trying to give the people a variety of music, different genres and different styles,” Thomas noted. “We were going to do a fall concert — ‘A Night on Broadway.’ So we decided to bring those songs that are familiar to people.
“I think they did a good job,” she added. “I have a whole lot of new choir students. This was their first experience. It was a bigger concert than last year coming off COVID. We’re growing. It’s a start I felt like, trying to get them be performers not just singers. Have them put on more of a production. I did have more help the staff and we had more people involved.”
With Christmas trees and ornaments surrounding the platforms for the singers in the Millington Performing Arts Center, the lights were turned on for the performers.
Despite limitations from the global pandemic and current adjustments, Thomas and the students didn’t hold back.
“I’m just having to train more and more,” Thomas acknowledged. “I basically missed an entire year of training singers. None of my classes in school were more than six people (last year). I lost a lot of people. My numbers for the guys are small. We’re just trying to do things to catch the attention of people so maybe they’ll join choir.”
Those who participated in the 2021 Winter Concert earned applause starting with the musical portion of the show.
On the piano for those songs were Lydia Winans. The songs were Junior Singing Trojans with “Hamilton Highlights” Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lisa DeSpain arrangement and singers Cheyenne Jones, Violet Smith, Giahnna Johnson, Addison Strevel and Alyssa West soloists; Jazz/Chamber Choir “Beauty and the Beast Choral Highlights” Alan Menken, Howard Ashman & Audrey Snyder arrangement and singers Trinitee Dickerson, Bibiana Roblers, Noah Taylor and Jason Swain soloists; Trojan/Trebles/Junior Singing Trojans “The Sound of Music Choral Selection” Rodgers & Hammmerstein/Clay Warnick, arrangement and singers Emily Denson, Haley Reedy, Katherine Daseler and Harmony Williams soloists, Madison Clements, Lexi Nolan and Sierra Lewis, ensemble; Combined Choirs “The Phantom of the Opera Medley” Ed Lojeski arrangement, singers Allix Gordon, Bibiana Roblers, Imani Brock and Sami Taylor — ensemble, Kayleigh Sims, Savannah Spearman, Joshua Harris, Jason Swain, Kyle tinkey and Noah Taylor — soloists.
After an intermission played by Bibiana Roblers on the piano it was time for some holiday classics. The music was Senior Trojan Trio with “Mary Did You Know” performed by Emily Denson, Ruby Russell and Bibiana Roblers; Chamber/Men’s Choir performing “Carol of the Bells;” Jazz/Men’s Choir performing “Baby It’s Cold Outside;” Jazz Choir with “The Night that Christ Was Born” with Kourtney Tinkey and Savannah Spearman solos; Trojan Trebles/Junior Singing Trojans with “On With the Snow;” Trojan Trebles with “Last Christmas” song by Katherine Daseler, Harmony Williams and Madison Clements with solos; Combined Choirs singing “White Winter Hymnal; Chamber Choir with “A Holly Jolly Christmas;” and the final song with the audience joining in “Silent Night” with a solo by Jayde Gabbard.
With a successful concert in the books, Thomas had a message for her parents and students.
“Not to be singers but be performers,” she concluded. “Keep the parents involved, I appreciate the parents. And the future is bigger. This was big but we’re trying to get to the great level to where people are just like ‘Wow.’”