Student singers from two Niagara County high schools are combining their talents to help raise money to support women with breast cancer.
The concert choir from Niagara Falls High School and the vocal ensemble from Wilson High School will perform “Sing for the Cure” this week at each school.
The concerts will feature 10 songs that deal with the emotions of battling breast cancer from the perspectives of not only the women who have it, but the loved ones in their lives, said Linda F. Werder, choir director at Niagara Falls High School.
The musical compilation consists of pieces written by a variety of composers and most often performed by adult singers, as some of the pieces include eight-part harmonies.
“It’s a challenge for them, and it’s also kind of emotionally risky to get up on stage and think about this stuff,” Werder said.
Adding to the challenge for the students is that the styles of songs vary, from a gospel piece to a more classically styled song to another that Werder described as “dissonant and disturbing.”
Claudia T. Andres, vocal director at Wilson, said the music has some stark language in the lyrics dealing with the problems caused by breast cancer.
“The music is very difficult and very emotional,” Andres said. “The kids really get into learning it even thought it’s really hard.”
The shows will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Niagara Falls High School Performing Arts Center and at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wilson High School.
The suggested ticket donations are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizen.
Proceeds from the concerts will go to the Breast Cancer Network of Western New York, a Depew-based nonprofit organization that provides educational, advocacy and support services.
This is the second time that both schools have joined together for this performance; they also did so in 2010.
The idea for the joint performances came when Werder and Andres attended a music teachers conference in Rochester in 2009. It was presented as an opportunity for schools to give back to the community, Werder said.
Werder and Andres are currently the only two female high school choral directors in the county, Werder said.
Students in the Falls have been rehearsing for 45 minutes a day since the start of the school year, learning about two songs a week. In Wilson, some students rehearse daily, while other rehearse every other day.
The 52 sophomores, juniors and seniors from the Falls will not rehearse with the 45 students in grades 9 through 12 from Wilson until a four-hour session on the day of the first concert.
The last time the schools got together, students from the urban district and the rural district also got to spend time together during rehearsal.
“It was really nice for them to get to know somebody that was in a different community,” Werder said.
Andres said she has about a dozen seniors singing at the upcoming performances who sang at the 2010 concerts as freshmen.
Refreshments, including pink cookies, will be sold during the concerts. Pink ribbons also will be on sale in recognition of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“We’re just hoping to get a lot of people to come out and support this event,” Werder said, “because the kids have worked so, so hard.”