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Pop Show Pops At East

Theme This Year Is Female Empowerment

Story and photos by Reid Neureiter

Special to the GPHN

The Denver East High choirs performed to nearly packed houses for three straight nights in April with their annual “Pop Show,” a celebration of young musical talent.

This year’s theme was “Female Empowerment” with a large blue painted female gender sign dominating the stage. More than 200 choir members sang 31 tunes, starting with a Fleetwood Mac medley and finishing with a medley featuring the songs “I’m Every Woman,” “You Gotta Be,” Beautiful,” “Female,” and “Perfect.”

The East program actually consists of a number of different choirs including, among others, Seraphim – an advanced women’s ensemble; the Honors Choir, the advanced concert choir; and Angelaires, a mixed vocal jazz ensemble that requires an audition for admission.

During this year’s Pop Show, Seraphim performed TLC’s ‘No Scrubs,” the Angelaires performed “Madness” by Muse, while the Honors Choir sang a captivating version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” The students developed the arrangements and choreography for each song.

Critical to the East choir program’s success are its directors, William Taylor and Rebecca Knack. Taylor first came to East High School as a student teacher, and he has been a choir teacher since 1992. Under his direction, the choir department has grown from 70 students, three choirs and one teacher to 250 students, nine choirs, two teachers, and a full-time accompanist. Knack is a more recent addition to the program, this being her third year.

Also crucial to the program’s success is accompanist Matt Kingman, who has been at East since 2013.

East Senior and Park Hill Clermont Street resident Jack Stenson is a member of both the Honors Choir and Angelaires.

“Being in choir has been rewarding because we are able to do something we are all passionate about: making music with just a good group of people who can support each other,” Stenson said.

His mother, Meg Stenson McCormick, was also effusive about the East Choir community. This spring, she noted, the choir’s spring break trip took 50 juniors and seniors to Los Angeles, where the students had the opportunity to perform both at Disneyland and on the main stage during the Los Angeles March for Our Lives rally.

McCormick credited Director Taylor, who she described as “phenomenal” and “incredibly dedicated to the kids and the choir, including being invested in the diversity of the choir.”

Highlights of the April 13-15 Pop Show included a solo performance by freshman sensation Lonnell Smith singing Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Penn Beldock singing Carrie Underwood’s “Choctaw County Affair,” and Paul Gutierrez’s version of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” which he interrupted mid-performance to ask his date to attend prom.

For those who missed the Pop Show, there is still a remaining chance to see the East Choir in action. The Spring Concert will be held May 15 at 7 p.m. at the Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman St. All choirs will perform.

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