The combined choirs of Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, NJ and Mary Help of Christians Academy, N. Haledon, NJ, brother/sister Salesian schools, performed on Friday, December 9th at Radio City Music Hall. As part of the Sounds of Christmas program, students had the opportunity to take the great stage of Radio City Music Hall as the opening act for one of the most recognized shows worldwide. “Opening for the Rockettes gives students the chance to have a professional-level, world-class music experience that they will remember for a lifetime,” said Toni Bilotti Cecere, Director of Choral Activities at Don Bosco Prep and Mary Help of Christians Academy.
Mrs. Cecere sent in an audition tape over the summer, and the group was selected to perform. The choir, comprised of 45 students from the two schools, sang a five-minute a cappella piece before the curtain rose for the Christmas Spectacular. The group rehearsed three times a week leading up to the show, preparing an arrangement of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and Pola and Wyle’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, arranged by Kirby Shaw. For most of these students, this was the first time that they sang together for a large public audience.
The idea for combining the two schools came when Mary Help of Christians Academy was looking to expand its arts offerings. Don Bosco Prep already had a successful Music Department and Performing Arts Pathway that included Concert Band, Concert Choir, Jazz Band, Bosco Rocks, Guitar Ensemble, Liturgical Music Group and Chapel Concerts, as well as a thriving year-round Theater Department. Its sister school, Mary Help of Christians Academy, sought to model its performing arts department after Don Bosco Prep’s. “This collaboration was a natural fit,” Bilotti Cecere continues. “It’s been so much fun to work with these talented, committed, wonderful young musicians!”