The Student News Site of Neshaminy High School

The Playwickian

The Student News Site of Neshaminy High School

The Playwickian

The Student News Site of Neshaminy High School

The Playwickian

Neshaminy Select Choir bests B101 Competition

Neshaminy Select Choir following their B101 victory.
Eddie Tamanini
Neshaminy Select Choir following their B101 victory.

Once again, Neshaminy High School (NHS)’s Select Choir was victorious in B101.1’s annual Christmas Choir Competition. Under the direction of Mrs. Kristin Nichols, most known to students as “Cloak,” listeners voted the Choir’s “Carol of the Bells/Wayfaring Stranger” the best song of 2023 from the High School division.

Featuring solos from Cameron Krauss and Rebecca Gutierrez and beatboxing by Gianna Loram, the piece received rave reviews and high praise from all who were lucky enough to hear it.

Speaking to soloist Cameron Krauss about the journey he and his colleagues went on, Krauss expressed how the group collectively felt a sense of pride and shock in the feat they accomplished.

“We were all just so excited and, I think, very humbled by the experience. A lot of hard work went into piecing everything together, and hearing our names announced as the winners on the radio that morning was so surreal. We were at a loss for words,” Krauss explained.

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As winners of the competition, the Select Choir received a prize of $5,000 cash prize and the opportunity to perform their song for a sold-out crowd as openers for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 17, 2023.

The Select Choir won the competition previously in 2021, with the hit Stevie Wonder song “What Christmas Means To Me.”

Nichols, speaking on Jenn and Bill Daily on B101.1, said the Choir plans to use the money towards an upcoming Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) convention in April, which she hopes gives her students “another amazing experience.”

As for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), Krauss felt it was “the icing on the cake” of the whole journey.

Reflecting on the journey, Krauss didn’t shy away from the obstacles the group faced, but noted how everything came together beautifully.

“[It was] hard. Really, really hard. I mean, first we had to adjust to the fact that we weren’t performing live, we were recording a song, and that really threw us for a loop,” Krauss stated. “But once we had that under control, and we began working together to find our sound, everything just seemed to fall into place.”

Krauss credits their success to the group’s determination to win and the leadership of their director.

“[Our success] was definitely [because of] our drive and motivation. A lot of that is thanks to our amazing director, Cloak, who pushes us to always put our best foot forward, keep our head in the game, and stay positive, no matter the outcome,” Krauss expressed.

“As for the group itself, we all really wanted this, especially as the last time we won two years ago, we could only take those of us who were vaccinated. And this experience certainly made up for that in every way possible, with a bigger stage, bigger audience, and the fact that we were opening for TSO.”

Many memories were made by the experience for all of the musicians, many of which will last a lifetime. For Krauss, his favorite was the first day the choir put the song together.

“That day, we all came to class ready to give up. We weren’t having much success with putting all the pieces together and sounding like one cohesive group. But Cloak – I don’t know how she does it – spoke her words of wisdom to the group and encouraged us to get through one more run of the song. But she asked us that this time, we only focus on the song and the people in the room, and forget about the rest of the world for two minutes,” Krauss revealed.

“That was the best we had sung that song before that day, and Cloak looked at us and said something like ‘Guys, I think this is gonna work’. Just the feeling of everyone letting go of their troubles and focusing on music and love for two minutes was so powerful, and I think it was a groundbreaking moment for our choir” says Krauss.

The Choir performed the piece for the Bucks County Commissioners meeting as well as the entire school district the day before Winter Break, Dec. 20, with an in-school concert. The concert was also live-streamed throughout the district.

For young, aspiring musicians in elementary and middle schools, Krauss, an NHS Senior, would give them a piece of advice to be successful like the NHS Choir after his years of work in the Neshaminy Music programs.

“Always be the best version of yourself, no matter what others may think or say. Find who you are and own it. That’s what I think really led us to success, was just being ourselves and finding our own sound; one that we can hear and be like ‘yep, that’s us.’ Be true to you[rself], and you’ll find success and respect.”

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