This article originally appeared in the summer 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Harker singers from the lower, middle and upper schools gathered at San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza Theater on April 1 for this year’s United Voices concert. Kellie Binney-Smart led the Bucknall Choir in the night’s opening performance of W.B. Yeats’ “The Sally Gardens,” set to music by Benjamin Britten, before moving on to Bret McKenzie’s “Life’s a Happy Song” from “The Muppets.”
Dazzling performances by the middle school groups followed, with highlights including Dynamics’ rendition of Kirby Shaw’s “Happiness Is …,” led by Mary Ellen Agnew-Place; a performance of Duke Ellington and Don George’s “Hit Me With a Hot Note” by the grades 7-8 show choir Harmonics, directed by Agnew-Place and Monica Colletti; and Vivace’s version of the Phillip Phillips hit “Home,” directed by Dave Hart.
Meanwhile, upper school introductory choir Bel Canto, directed by Jennifer Sandusky, delighted the audience with a medley of Brazilian folk songs and the Susan Nace-directed intermediate vocal ensemble Camerata sang “Dirait-on” from “Les Chansons de Roses.” Female vocal group Cantilena, also directed by Nace, displayed its multicultural talents with versions of Debussy’s “Nuits d’étoiles” and “Dravidian Dithyramb” by Victor Paranjoti. Soon after, Downbeat, codirected by Sandusky and Laura Lang-Ree, showed up to bring the house down, concluding with the Jason Mraz hit “I’m Yours/Over the Rainbow.”
As has become tradition, the show ended with all of the night’s singers assembled onstage for a special closing number, singing “O Sifuni Mungu” by David Maddux.