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Caroling On The 80th Floor

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”  

This timeless sentiment, made popular by the 2003 film Elf, is a governing force for many choirs during the holiday season.  On the dreary Friday of Dec. 6, members of the Oyster Bay High School Mixed Chorus, directed by Supervisor of the Performing Arts Peter Rufa and choir director and Oyster Bay alumnus Seanna Burke, put this proclamation to the test as they spent the day traveling throughout New York City, complete with a visit to the historic Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall.

After sufficiently stocking up on seasonal inspiration at a performance of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, members of the Mixed Chorus set out for a day of caroling. Making their way down the bustling New York City blocks, an impromptu performance was given at Sbarro, a chain pizza eatery, followed by spontaneous caroling at a Starbucks, on the street and throughout Bryant Park.

“Everywhere we went, people stopped to listen, it was a really great feeling,” said senior Juliet Bibla.

Shepherded into the gleaming lobby of the Empire State Building, the ensemble, clad in classic black with splashes of festive red, were greeted as celebrities. The building was not another spontaneous venue for performance, but rather the initial reason for the day’s agenda.  The Mixed Chorus’s performance at the Empire State Building was a mark of extreme honor as they were told by personnel that their performance would be the first in more than 80 years, the third group of musicians to ever perform there and the first to ever be formally invited to do so.  

From the 80th floor of the building, the singers serenaded tourists and personnel with holiday classics such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” as well as a preview of their winter concert including the piece, “I Am in Need of Music.”  A special addition to the chorus was Oyster Bay High School Art Teacher Karen Crowley, who is herself an accomplished singer.

Singing high above the skyline of most of New York City is an opportunity that seldom presents itself to the most distinguished of musicians.  For the members of the Mixed Chorus it is another prestigious feather in their cap.