District Choral Festival serves as inspiration to all involved

Students perform at Proctors during the Niskayuna Central School District Choral Festival.

Every year, the Niskayuna Central School District Music Department hosts a district-wide music festival that rotates between band, orchestra and chorus.

2024 is a choral year, so all students involved in choral groups in grades 5 through 12 gathered to perform at Proctors.

For middle-schooler McKenna Connor, watching some of the older students perform was inspiring.

“They’re very good and I just have to work my way to get to that point,” Connor said. “Just keep singing and keep doing what I’ve been doing.“

Students rehearsing at Proctors ahead of the District Choral Festival performance.

Connor and fellow middle schooler Harriet Mengel have been to Proctors in the past, but not for this reason.

“I’ve come to Proctors to watch shows all the time, and I’ve never expected to be on stage,” Mengel said.

In addition to the impressive venue, students were fortunate to work with award-winning composer, baritone, conductor and music educator Shavon Lloyd. Though he believes the experience to be mutually beneficial.

“I always enter a space like this with the intention to learn just as much as I teach,” Lloyd said. “I’ve learned so much about teaching, about how to communicate, how to make music with people. These students are so smart and so responsive and so receptive and so enthusiastic about music.”

Lloyd rehearsing with students at Proctors ahead of the District Choral Festival performance.

The festival is about more than just hitting the right notes. It’s also about creating new relationships and memories.

“I think it’s a fun experience to gather and make new friends along the way and learn more about coordination and singing,” Niskayuna High School student Marie Campoli said.

For some, it was a full circle moment as they were once the younger students performing in the choral festival.

“It was so fun to think about how I used to be in their shoes and how like they’re like the future of the music program,” NHS student Coumba Ndiaye said.

“It’s like, cooler, because now we’re the big kids and we get to, like, you’re the role models for the younger kids,” NHS student Avery Watson said. “We’ve been able to see some of that today.”