Written by Charissa Roberson
The Roanoke College Choir and Oriana Singers presented their 15th annual “Off-Broadway, Campus” concert on April 17, at 7:30 pm, over Alumni Weekend.
Dr. Jeffrey Sandborg, choir director and professor at RC, introduced the concert as “the musical revue where members of our choirs step into the spotlight to sing music from some of their favorite shows.” The event, held in partnership with the Alumni Office, was dedicated to RC alumni, who joined the campus community for many virtual events over the weekend.
The evening’s performances included selections from such classic musicals as “South Pacific,” “Into the Woods,” “Hamilton,” “RENT,” “The King and I,” “Hairspray” and more, accompanied by pianist and RC lecturer Cara Hubbard. Soul-stirring full choir numbers were interspersed with solos, duets and even one trio this year.
Sophomore Alexis Barton, who sang “Mama I’m a Big Girl Now” (“Hairspray”) with juniors Kyra Baker and Claire McDonald, said she began working on the trio over winter break. “It was so much fun getting to be sassy and singing a fun, upbeat song,” she said.
The RCC and Oriana Singers have been preparing their concert since the start of the spring semester. Like all campus organizations, the choirs have had to work to overcome challenges related to COVID-19.
“The rehearsal process was a bit challenging as we all had to wear masks and remain 10 feet apart,” said McDonald, who has been a member of the choir for almost three years now. “When first learning music, this made it especially hard to hear the people around you in order to gauge whether you had the right notes or vowel sounds.”
Despite these added difficulties, the choirs put together a beautiful, varied collection of musical numbers for this year’s “Off-Broadway, On Campus.” They were unable to have a live audience, but the entire concert was streamed on Roanoke College’s YouTube channel, where enthusiastic watchers typed their applause, cheers and encouraging comments in the chat.
“We’re lucky to have a concert in the first place,” said Barton. “[RCC] has been one of the best things that I’ve been involved in throughout my time at Roanoke. The friends and the memories that I’ve made in my time with RCC are the best part!”
The choirs’ final concert of the semester will be held on Mother’s Day, May 9. Regardless of whether or not a live audience is permitted at that point, a live stream will be available. Meanwhile, the recorded stream of “Off-Broadway, On Campus” remains on Roanoke College’s YouTube channel for viewing.