RANDOLPH, NJ – Based on audience and performer feedback, all concur that this year’s POPtoberfest, presented on Monday, October 24, at Randolph High School was like no other.

POPtoberfest is an annual pop music concert, directed by RHS choir teacher Matthew Swiss and performed by students in Concert Choir, Treble Choir, Chamber Choir, and A Capella, which made its debut this year. The concert also features soloists and small ensembles singing the pop repertoire of their choice.

This year, all acts were notable for their breathtaking emotion and beautiful musicianship. Every single performer who stepped onstage put their heart and soul into their performance.

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“I am incredibly proud of my students,” said Swiss. “They continue to surprise me with their talent, the emotional depth of their performances, and the joy they bring to our stage.”

The concert of back-to-back music included highlights  such as Chamber Choir’s “And So It Goes” and Treble Choir’s “I Lived” as well as Concert Choir’s mash up of “Scarborough Fair,” “Canticle,” and a moving version of “The Sound of Silence.”

Gabby Toledo, a junior, performed a remarkable solo, “Rise,” with a six-piece orchestra backing her up. A trio of singers, senior Ariana Foster, junior Shannon Goldstein, and sophomore Owen Weiss performed “Empire State of Mind.” Other highlights included a mash up of “We Can’t Stop” and “Price Tag,” performed by sophomores Julia Frost and Eliana Koenigsberg, and “Brave” performed by senior Carly Francesconi, senior Ariana Pereira, junior Jordan Pontelandolfo, junior Gabby Toledo, and junior Isabel Vega.

The most moving and emotional performance of the evening came from Junior Nate Pangaro who performed “Till it Happens to You”, A universal song about any kind of loss or suffering in life, best known for its part in a documentary about college campus sexual assault. Singing alone on a darkened stage with a single spotlight, the end of Pangaro’s song saw the lights go up to reveal fellow choir members holding placards with motivational phrases.

“This choir is a group of extremely kind and talented kids,” said Josh Cohen, a freshman in Concert Choir and Chamber Choir, adding, “Mr. Swiss has led us to a very successful concert and we had a ton of fun performing at POPtoberfest.”

The audience appeared to be having a ton of fun as well,  as they took part during certain acts by clapping to the rhythm and waving their phone flashlights back and forth. They were also able to enjoy the concert’s exceptional sound quality, a result of new microphones that the Choir Theater Booster Association donated to RHS.

 “I thought it was a great opportunity to showcase the talents of the students from ninth graders all the way through twelfth graders,” said Jan Quinn, a proud parent of a performer. “Their talent was superb, with incredible accompaniment by Mr. Swiss and Ariana Pereira. The choir seemed to bond well, and the quality of the music was excellent even though they have only been together a couple of months.”

“I enjoyed seeing the a capella group for their debut,” added Stephanie Coleman-Chan, another proud parent of a freshman performer.

The emotional finale, “Keep Holding On,” performed by all choirs as well as four amazing soloists, senior Theresa Pelosi, junior Noah Berg, senior Christian Harvey and junior Anne Paulsen, brought tears to some audience members’ eyes. The performers stood in a circle on the perimeter of the auditorium, projecting the sound of their voices into the audience.

fter the roaring applause following the piece, the choir began their thrilling encore, moving onto the risers, while singing with glee. Seeing the exuberant expressions on the faces of the performers was the main highlight of the night.

The RHS choirs have had a great start to their musical year. The Randolph community can look forward to their upcoming winter concert on December 8th and Cabaret Night, on February 3rd.