Anthony Cagliano    November 1, 2009     [ B+      JMS]

      Music is a rich form of art, characterized by its ability to inspire a wide range of emotions through variations in its melody. Its ability to be calm and soothing one moment, then vigorous and jarring the next makes it unique. A painting cannot change its composition, a sculpture cannot change its texture. Even movies have to build gradually from a calm opening to a climatic conflict. Only music has the ability to abruptly change its melody.

     For my musical performance, I returned to my high school, Archbishop Molloy, and requested permission to observe the Chorus’s preparation for a holiday concert.1 This was, obviously, not as well organized as our class field trip to Carnegie Hall, but it can be appreciated just as well. Just as one can appreciate the Batman comics “coming together” in the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, so can one appreciate the process of music “coming together”.

     Now, let me be completely honest. The performance of the holiday piece was so bad that it was laughable. They were discordant, cacophonous, and unharmonious. Today, we would call this “epic fail”. Please excuse this joke, but, if I was to speak only about what was good, instead of evaluate the piece as whole, my paper would be only three to four lines, instead of three to four pages.2 The music type was program music. It is accompanied by text and shares a central theme, the holidays. It was in song form, consisting of collaged pieces of various well-known holiday tunes. One thing I always enjoy about Molloy’s chorus is its ability to take the slowest songs, even church music, and develop a unique interpretation of it that is upbeat, major key, and intriguing. Melodically, the piece was short, choppy, and agitated, as its melodic range rose and fell violently and frequently. The rhythm was irregular, interrupted by frequent pauses, and variable without a doubt. The harmony was lacking, as this was a preparation and the chorus had not completely weeded out all the errors in its staking of notes. In much the same way, the counterpoint, or vertical structure, was lacking in organization. Several of the notes that were supposed to resonate together were out of time with others and resonated mostly late. This reduced the clarity of the piece. The piece had a fast and agitated tempo. It was upbeat, accompanied by wide variations in melody and vocals. The song and the music was loud, never leaving the major scale, and varying throughout the piece. In terms of instrumentation, the only instruments used were an electric piano and the voices of the chorus. This suggests an atmosphere that fosters the individual’s talent over that of a machine.

     While this year’s final performance is not until mid-December, I have seen the final show from other years and have been left in shock. Regardless of how bad they sound during preparation and rehearsal, they always sound brilliant on the night of the actual performance! The timing is perfect, the harmony is precise, and the melodic fluctuations are amazing. The songs are so catchy that I have, even to this day, found myself humming them while performing ordinary tasks.

     I asked the director of the chorus, Mr. James Sheehan, about the goals of the chorus for every performance. He replied, “Our goal is to entertain the Molloy students with our own interpretation of the tunes they already know”. This is evidenced by their annual performance of a comic rendition of a Christmas song. In evaluating their performance, it is important to keep this in mind. The chorus’s performance does entertain. Certain solo parts provide a comic interruption to an otherwise serious melody. Even the melody keeps the audience on its feet and connected and interested. For its success in this, I give this performance two thumbs way up.

     I have no criticism for the final performance, as it is genuinely unique and well organized. It attracts parents and students alike and they enjoy themselves so much that they return year after year. Its success as a fundraiser for charity makes it extremely worthwhile. As a musical experience, the practice session gave me a unique glimpse into the world of musical composition and the steps involved in creating a brilliant musical production.





1  I would like to thank Mr. J Sheehan, the director of Molloy’s Junior-Senior Chorus for allowing me to observe this practice session.

2  I would like to thank Professor Saslow for giving me the opportunity to appreciate a work as a whole, regardless of how bad it may seem.