Performing to over 9000 concert goers at Boardwalk Hall last Saturday night, the Continuo Arts Children's Chorus & Singers brought the house down in their Michael Jackson tribute, performing "Earth Song" with Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra.
Dr. Candace Wicke is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Continuo Arts Choral Programs, located in Summit and Westfield. When the invitation came to Candace Wicke to feature her choral students in the Andre Rieu 2010 Celebration Tour, Wicke had just one week to prepare the children for the concert. Within two days, all 28 children were on board, and excited about this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. With just a short rehearsal time, the children, ages 7-16, were ready for the big night with Andre Rieu.
On Saturday morning, the children, parents and chaperones boarded the bus, arriving in Atlantic City two and a half hours later. The entire experience was new to many of the younger children - the bus, the mammoth Boardwalk Hall, dressing rooms with security guards, and all-white costumes on hangers awaiting the dress rehearsal and performance.
First came the run-through with a charming orchestra representative, Thomas, who made the children feel at ease with the immense stage decorated in flowers and the overhead lights in the stadium-like auditorium. There was the first rehearsal, and then the dress rehearsal where everyone got to put on their "whites" and meet Andre Rieu and the Brazilian sensation, Carmen Monarcha , soloist for "Earth Song,." Mr. Rieu rode up and down the aisles on his Segway, listening and making suggestions to the children.
Following a catered dinner with the orchestra, additional rehearsal time with Wicke in the dressing room, and a last minute fitting of the white costumes, it was show time. The tension backstage was palpable as the children and chaperones awaited their cue. Finally, the chorus entered from both sides of the stage, and "Earth Song" was received so enthusiastically. The chorus did a splendid rendition of Michael Jackson hand and body motions as they sang. After a standing ovation, the chorus was ushered backstage for photos with Andre Rieu during the intermission. For the second half of the concert, students were escorted as a group to special seats, to the resounding applause of an appreciative audience. There were many special flourishes throughout the concert, such as waltzing in the aisles, and a balloon drop which delighted adults and children alike.
The Continuo Arts Foundation will bring its intergenerational choral programs to Twin Maples, home of the Fortnightly Club in Summit this September. There are programs for children, teens, and adults (including senior citizens). The Continuos, a boy's ensemble, will be a new feature in the Fall. Program information and registration details may be found on the website, www.continuoarts.com or by calling 908-264-5324.