Cantabile Seniors Sing Their Goodbyes


Alexa Geidel, Editor-In-Chief


When asked what it was like to finally be the one standing at the front of the stage, being recognized as a senior member of Cantabile Honors Chorale, senior Draven Rutland struggled for words. He swallowed his bagel with a furrowed brow, perplexed at how to respond. While Rutland searched for words, fellow senior Tyler Danner commented with a similar melancholy face, “It was really surreal, like ‘this isn’t me’. I almost imagined I was still watching the seniors from previous years up there.” Yet before the waterworks began and the seniors stepped up-stage, the choir did what the choir does best – sing like there’s no tomorrow.

Cantabile sang four show-stopping numbers, as the fourth quarter sets always prove to be. After Magnum Chordum, the first-level boys ensemble, finished their set of hard-hitting 80s male pop hits, Cantabile filtered in between the boys. Together, the groups broke into Journey’s cult-classic “Eye Of The Tiger”. Magnum then stepped to the front of the multipurpose room stage and surprised Cantabile with Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” which wasn’t mentioned in the program. Magnum took a conclusive bow and filed off the stage. Cantabile, still fresh and not overcome by emotion started with a Swahili lullaby, “Baba Yetu”, which was also featured in the video game Civilization IV. “Baba Yetu” featured soloists sophomores Jacob Polesky and Jaina Chaston, senior Draven Rutland, freshman Joey Vitagliano, and juniors Bennett Wood and Beth Heaton.

The screen came down from the ceiling and the starting pitches were played for Michael Jackson’s ballad “Man In The Mirror”. The group onstage looked around like deer in the head lights. Something was very wrong. “You gave us the wrong pitches!” Piped up freshman Macy Danner from the second row. The pitches were replayed and the vocal percussion “do’s” could begin. On the screen played a video made by senior Manu Kondapi. Kondapi stitched together head shots of all the members of Cantabile with a few notorious choir selfies thrown into the mix. The members of Cantabile morphed into each other, a la Jackson’s iconic “Black Or White” video.

The crowd ate the video up. The singers on stage had a hard time squelching their giggles as they watched the audience’s reactions. By now, the energy was tangible in the air – no one thought the energy in the room could get any higher – but this is Cantabile, so of course it could. Vitagliano, senior Logan Murphy, and junior Andy Hanke weaved off the risers and into the alcove. Respectively, they grabbed a guitar, a bass guitar, and drum sticks. And so began “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The crowd sang and clapped along to the Queen smash hit and cheered with each crescendo. Vitagliano orchestrated a mellifluous guitar solo that could bring Freddie Mercury to his knees. The strike of the gong was still ringing euphorically when the crowd was on its feet. Screams and hollers erupted from every chair.

After the presentation of music letters (just like the ones for sports) and pins, which were awarded to a record number of people for the choir department, two awards still sat in the plastic box that had previously held the letters and certificates. The high schoolers had nominated an outstanding member of the choir to receive the coveted leadership and musicianship awards for choir. Mrs. VanderLey reached excitedly into the box and leaned into the mic, stating that the first award, the leadership award, was to be presented to the most influential leader in the group. She dramatically ripped the tape off of the plaque and announced junior Bennett Wood was this year’s winner. Next, the musicianship award was to be revealed and VanderLey shared that in the ‘why?’ section of the ballot, the unanimous response for this nominee was, “*cough* first soprano in the state *cough*.” She needn’t say a name, senior Aubrey Chaston humbly received the award. Chaston received the award every year she attended Horizon Honors, sophomore, junior, and senior year, and also won at her previous high school, Maricopa High. She set the record, surpassing all who came before.

The time had come. It was the seniors’ time to step to the front of the stage. This ritual, sacred and preserved, is a hard one to swallow. Each year, Mrs. VanderLey attempts to steel herself more than the last, but she chokes up nonetheless. Nine seniors stood in a line next to Mrs. VanderLey, steeling themselves for her words. She recognized each student individually, punctuated with a sentimental look. The students returned all the years of love in the only way they knew how. Through a song. They surprised not only their beloved teacher, but the choir family that had grown up with them through sock hops, capital tours, Disneyland, graduations, everything. Kondapi’s sweet alto voice floated across the audience for the first notes of ABBA’s “Thank You For The Music”.

Sobs lingered in the throats of the performers and they did their best to force down the sorrow. It was visually evident that the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” did no good to assuage the deep sentiments washing through the group. No one minded that the notes weren’t perfect – singing on a good day is hard, singing after senior recognition is even harder. Although emotions were reeling, Cantabile outdid themselves once again. The honors ensemble sure knows how to send their seniors out with a bang – it was pretty clear they had the time of their lives in choir.