Choirs bring new life to classical music, mixing with techno beats

Courtesy of Sophia Dorantes

Courtesy of Sophia Dorantes

Sophia Dorantes, Staff Reporter

Sandburg choirs have embarked on a new and original project, which will combine techno and classical styles of music. They will use techno backing tracks and classic piano, and the choirs will sing over these with classical lyrics and notes. The pieces that result will layer the different styles together, playing with tempo and adding voices on top. It is in the early stages currently, and will take around two years to complete fully.

The project will be trial-and-error based, but is already producing results. A piece is in progress currently with Chorale, (the highest level choir at Sandburg) with an end-date of sometime in October. Later on in May, another piece will be created with a wider range of choirs.

In January of 2025, the venture will culminate when Chorale plans to visit the Illinois Music Educators Conference in Peoria. The conference is an audition based event where people from around the state perform music together. There, they will present their work to other music students and teachers. 

Sandburg choir director, Ms. Denofrio, has wanted to embark on something of the nature for many years. ¨It was the first time I started accompanying for high school choirs, so I was new in that domain. And every choir director that I met that I told that I wanted to put dance beats and techno beats under classical literature, they looked at me like I was crazy. And it just kept resurfacing, every few years I would think about it, and I would get the same reaction. And I finally thought, this has been haunting me for twenty years, it’s time to do it,” she said. 

However, she’s not working alone. Alex Hansen, a former student of Ms. D’s and current music artist, will be providing the EDM style tracks. As the project moves along, he will come to the school to record vocal tracks. Potentially, he could also mix live on stage with the choir during a concert sometime in the future. Of the project he says, “This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, but with the experience I’ve had thus far in my music life, I’m confident we’re going to make some magic happen!”

As for why this combination was chosen, it simply makes sense musically, Ms. D explains. “It really boils down to the rhythmic meter of classical- most classical music, the stuff that we’re gonna do. Non-professionally, I would call it ‘set it and forget it’. So the piece starts out at this tempo, and it never changes. So if you have a piece that has a tempo that never gets faster and never gets slower, it’s really simple to build different types of beats under it,” she said.

But beyond the music itself, the true reason behind the project is to bring something new to the program, no matter what results come out of it.  “…You can try different things. It may fall on its face. We might take stuff down there that doesn’t hit well, right? But just to start reimagining that old music in new ways,” Ms. D says of her goals.

A core component of the project is of course the choir students. According to Ms. D, they’re willing to try things, no matter what they are. And, beyond that, they take care of each other as a group. “And you’re really supportive of one another, in a very usable kind of way. Like, if one voice part is having trouble, another voice part is like no, try it again, you have it, do it. And not like, oh it’s ok, but like no, fight back, do it, do it. That’s the best part about the Sandburg choirs is that you guys are up for anything,”