ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
Whether classical or contemporary, music is anything but the same old song-and-dance routine for Christina Newfield of Peabody-Burns High School.
“I love different styles of music,” said Newfield, a junior. “And I like smaller groups to sing in because you can work on different styles.”
So the 11-member PBHS ensemble, Voices, is a perfect fit for Newfield, especially the way first-year director Allison Many leads it, she said.
“She’s trying to have us sing a little bit of everything,” Newfield said about Many. “There are just lots of different styles that she wants us to do.”
Many agreed that she has taken the group in a different direction this year.
“They were a show choir when I got here,” Many said. “What I’m trying to do with them this year is broaden their repertoire to where they don’t just dance and sing.”
Many said that last semester the ensemble focused more on singing serious, traditional literature. This semester is a return to the more contemporary show music the group is used to singing.
The group’s diversity extends to its venue of performance as well, Many said.
“They perform at a variety of places,” Many said. “They’re the group that, if someone calls and asks for singers to perform, they always go.”
Newfield is more than pleased with the results of Many’s direction, she said, especially because it’s in a mixed group.
“It sounds great,” Newfield said. “I love to hear guys sing. It’s like the best sound ever.”
She also loves to hear individual voices within the ensemble come through, she said, and Many has made this possible by incorporating solos and duets into their performances.
“I like that, because it lets people know that everyone has a really unique voice,” Newfield said. “And it’s great because you can tell our voices are different, but you can also tell when we all get together that we can blend with each other.”
To Newfield, the only thing better than singing a variety of music in a mixed ensemble, she said, is adding a bit of dance to the mix.
That’s one reason Newfield is looking forward to performing in the Voices’ dinner theater on Friday, April 15, set in the atmosphere of a 1950s diner.
“This one is going to be a really fun one,” Newfield said. “We’re going throughout the decades- we’re singing music from the ’50s until today’s music.
“We’re also going to add in some choreography, which we haven’t done yet this year, and kind of make it fun and laid back,” she said.
Newfield, a soprano, will sing a small solo in the Voices’ rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” at the dinner theater, which will begin at 7 p.m. at Peabody Elementary School.
Outside of her school, Newfield is no novice in the world of choreography.
In recent years, she has enjoyed choreographing interpretive dance routines and performing them to contemporary worship music with others in her youth group at First Baptist Church in Peabody, she said.
Newfield studies the routines of other groups that perform interpretive dance and adapts their movements for her own group’s performances, she said.
She has been too busy to do much choreography lately, she said, but it is an activity she plans to do more of in the near future, whether with her youth group or in Voices.
Newfield plans to be in Voices again next year, she said, and to work with Many one-on-one and in the group to prepare for auditions into college choir the following year.
She is confident in Many’s desire to help her and the other students improve their voices.
“She goes all out for us,” Newfield said. “You can tell she loves this class and she wants us to do our best.”
Newfield plans to attend Tabor College in fall 2006 and to audition for the concert choir to sing under the direction of Brad Vogel, she said.
But she has not yet fully decided her course of study, she said. She’d been interested in either zoology or horticulture for most of her life but as of late has decided she may like to teach instead, either at the elementary level or at the secondary level teaching English.
“I think being a teacher is the main focus right now,” she said.
Newfield said she may decide to couple this career choice with further involvement in missions work.
She’s been on two recent missions trips to Mexico, one over Christmas break with Teen Mania Ministries and another over spring break with a group from Augusta through Amor Ministries.
The taste of missions work was enough to give her a thirst for more.
“I’d love if I could learn another language and then be able to go and… teach English as a second language,” she said. “I don’t necessarily mind where I go.”
She is unsure how music will fit into the picture, she said, but it’s unlikely to disappear from her life altogether. Even if it’s just humming when she’s happy, she said, music is an important part of her life.
But so are many other plans and dreams, making it difficult for Newfield to make room in a limited schedule for such a variety of interests and aspirations.
“I get so busy,” she said. “There are so many things that I want to do, but there’s just not enough time to do everything that I want to do.”
Even with such a busy schedule, Many said that Newfield goes above and beyond class requirements for Voices.
“She puts in a lot of extra time,” Many said. “Whenever I needed someone to come into an extra rehearsal or I need someone to come and help me after school, she’s always one that volunteers.”
This included taking over a class project when Many became ill over Valentine’s Day, she said.
“She took care of singing valentines for me,” Many said. “That was something I didn’t think we were going to be able to do because I wasn’t here to arrange it.
“She organized it for me, which was amazing,” she said.
Newfield possesses not just a cooperative attitude but solid musical skills as well, according to Many.
“She is an outstanding musician,” Many said. “She picks up on things very fast.”
These qualities make Newfield a role model and a leader for the group, Many said.
“She takes the initiative,” Many said. “She’s a very good leader.”