The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Eric Whitacre Conducts THS Chorus


Four months after January’s Winter Concert, on Friday, April 26, Mr. Millar and the Tenafly High School Chorus performed several songs composed by Grammy-winner Eric Whitacre at Montclair State University, conducted by Whitacre himself. Many of the performers, as well as Millar, found it to be a worthwhile experience.

Whitacre, a composer and conductor widely recognized for his choral music, has written for the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Chanticleer, Julian Lloyd Webber and the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Tallis Scholars, the King’s Singers, Dallas Winds, the Berlin Rundfunkchor, and the Minnesota Orchestra. He was born in Nevada in 1970 and graduated from The Juilliard School. He won his Grammy for his debut album Light and Gold, and has gone on to create several other projects.

“When I heard that Montclair University was collaborating with Whitacre, I jumped at the chance,” Millar said. “If it’s possible to be a choral composer and a rockstar, that’s him.” 

The THS chorus has had many performances, with past Winter and Spring Concerts being prime examples of past successes. However, the Eric Whitacre trip was a completely different tune for the chorus. 

“This performance was different because we sang with hundreds of other high school students in the New Jersey and New York area and Montclair choir students,” Kate Situ (’25) said. “Being surrounded by voices at Montclair was such an incredible experience since I’m used to singing with a smaller group.” 

Performing in such a large group comes with its challenges, but the choir learned to expect the unexpected with Whitacre’s conducting. His dynamic approach kept everyone on their toes and fostered a deeper understanding of the music.

“We know the notes and we know what we’re supposed to expect, but we also made it different each time,” Guy Persitz (’25) said. “When Eric was trying new things, I think we learned how to expect these unexpected things and flow with what he had in mind.”

This opportunity is truly unique, not only for the chorus students but for Millar as well. Even though he conducts the All-State chorus, which consists of about 300 students, this was nearly double that size. 

“Just the experience of being in the middle of all that sound is unique,” Millar said. 

However, one of the struggles with this opportunity was the sheer amount of music the chorus had to rehearse. Balancing their regular concert preparations with the additional Whitacre pieces was demanding.

“We had a ton of music that we were learning for our concert,” Millar said. “And then throwing these pieces on top of that was a lot for everybody to learn.”

Even though it was somewhat of a mad rush to get all the scores in order, it was an irreplaceable experience for many of the students,one that can hopefully be continued in the coming years. The benefits of such experiences extend beyond the immediate performance, leaving lasting impressions and enhancing the students’ musical education.

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About the Contributor
Anoushka Chakrabarti
Anoushka Chakrabarti, Senior Staff Writer
Anoushka Chakrabarti (’25) is a Senior Staff Writer for The Echo. Aside from writing about current events, she enjoys, reading, listening to music and spending time with friends and family.