Newly named ‘Choirhawks’ are all pop and spirit

CHANGE: Wearing custom t-shirts, the Choirhawks performed Ingrid Michaelson’s hit “The Way I Am” at their concert June 9. The group has added more pop, along with beat-boxing by Jake Benyowitz (at top right, above), to its song list.

Goldie Fields

CHANGE: Wearing custom t-shirts, the Choirhawks performed Ingrid Michaelson’s hit “The Way I Am” at their concert June 9. The group has added more pop, along with beat-boxing by Jake Benyowitz (at top right, above), to its song list.

Adam Rokah, Arts and Culture Editor

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The bell has rung for Town Hall, and everyone seems slightly lethargic except for the members of the choir, who are happily organizing themselves to perform their latest pop rendition. The moment the members open their mouths and hit their first notes with ease, all the tiredness in the room seems to vanish.

In the past, the Shalhevet Choir sang older music that many of the student members were unfamiliar with. Since last year, however, the group now known as the Choirhawks — rhymes with “Firehawks”  — has adapted its style of music to be more modern and upbeat.

“I am so happy with the new choir,” said Liat Bainvoll, the group’s president. “I think it was a long time coming — it was definitely a change for the better.”

“I think we all came to a realization that to make choir fun and to get people to join and want to hear us, we’d have to start doing songs that were current and fun.”

Sure enough, the “new choir” has drawn a lot of positive attention.

“They seemed enthusiastic and I liked their song selection,” said sophomore Mark Miller.

Senior Tamar Willis liked the way the Choirhawks sang Adon Olam to “The Cup Song,” complete with red Solo cups.

“The song itself was really good, but the way they did it had so much spirit,” said Tamar. “Everyone got really into it and it was fun to watch.”

Sophomore Jake Benyowitz, a tenor and the group’s designated beat-boxer, noted that the group seems to be learning songs more quickly this year.

“I like it better because we’re doing more pop, more upbeat music,” Jake said.

A hit at their spring concert last June was a mash-up of Y’hei Shlama Rabba and L’cha Hashem Hag’dulah, which the group learned from a Jewish a capella group at the University of Maryland, Rak Shalom.

Jake said the beat-boxing makes the sound more hip, and Liat said the choice of songs – usually suggested by the members themselves — has changed the mood of rehearsals.

“Now choir members are excited to learn new songs, and when Mrs. Keene uses their suggestions they feel like their opinions matter,” said Liat. “I think we’re also glad that we no longer have to suffer through ‘Geographical Fugue’ or a multitude of bird songs.”

The change in name was deliberate, she added.

“I think the ‘Choirhawks’ coincided with our reinvention, mostly because the same group of us who pushed for the new songs wanted to completely change our image,” Liat said.

Mrs. Keene said she was pleased the group was getting so much positive attention.

“I also love this music,” Mrs. Keene said. “It definitely livens things up at the end of the day.”

She said she has some regret that there’s less “classical” music being learned. But at Town Hall, she’s noticed that people now complain to her when choir doesn’t sing.

“That is for sure progress,” Mrs. Keene said.

Related video: Choir goes pop

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