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“Howdy” Rhythm says “Yeehaw!”

Mack Mendenhall, Staff Writer

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Well, this weekend was nothing short of rowdy for Peters Township’s high school choirs.  Rowdy Rhythm, joined with the brand new a cappella group, Room 100, traveled down to San Antonio, Texas, for the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 2017 Mid-Winter Convention. This was a historic year, as it was the first time female and mixed groups were allowed to compete in the all-male society’s contest. Naturally, PT choir members were extremely excited to be a part of this musical extravaganza, as they had been preparing their set for months.

With the brilliant leadership of their director, Ryan Perrotte, and the guidance of various barbershop experts, Rowdy Rhythm prepared not only three incredible songs, but they combined them into a riveting theatrical performance. As the set opens, the day is October 26, 1929, and the setting is a town scene, in which the choir members are dressed as townspeople, giddy with excitement over the upcoming parade. As they await its arrival, the town mayor (Mr. Perrotte) passes by to say some hellos and shake some hands. Suddenly, he hears the faint sounds of music approaching in the distance and eagerly motions for the townspeople to get ready. They break out in “South Rampart Street Parade”, a fast-paced, lively show-stopper which the choir has been performing for almost four years. After the thrilling song comes to a close, the townspeople rejoice over the parade until a boy walks out sweeping a broom, telling everyone to go home and get some rest. “And they would need that rest,” a girl solemnly announces, stepping out from the crowd, “because a couple of days later was Black Tuesday – October 29, 1929 – the most devastating crash in stock market history”. With this declaration, the mood immediately changes to a feeling of hopelessness, as the townspeople remove their scarves and ties, signaling the loss of prosperity. They sing a heartbreaking Disney classic, “I Will Go Sailing No More”, bringing tears to audiences who resonate with the pain of losing everything they have. When the song ends, the townspeople look to their mayor for guidance, but with a sorrowful tip of of his hat, he abandons them, walking away from the chaos and despair the Great Depression has caused. Suddenly, a man steps forward, encouraging the town to work harder and never give up, certain that they will overcome the hardships they are facing. One girl, who has decided to stay hopeful, takes off her hat and begins to sing the opening lines to the final song, “I Believe I Can Fly/Fly”, an inspiring medley of the R. Kelly classic and the Nicki Minaj/Rihanna hit. As the song progresses, more townspeople remove their hats as a statement of joining the effort to survive their crisis. White dress shirts are ripped off at the most powerful moments of the song, revealing black and brightly colored shirts underneath. The townspeople proudly stand together as the song ends, leaving the audience with nothing else to do but leap to their feet in awe and appreciation. And that is exactly what the crowd in San Antonio did following Rowdy Rhythm’s emotional performance.

The choir was pleased to learn shortly afterwards that they had placed second in their category and eighth out of twenty-five choruses overall, receiving an Outstanding score, just .9 shy of the top rating, Superior. Rowdy Rhythm truly grew so much as a group after the weekend, and they returned home satisfied with their accomplishment of their main goal: to inspire others.

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“Howdy” Rhythm says “Yeehaw!”