A local elementary school's choir is an Internet sensation.
The Gifford Children's Choir's performance of a song from a popular video game has spread around the world since it was posted on YouTube two days ago. The kids sing the song "Still Alive" by Jonathon Coulton from the credits of the game Portal.
Director Jon Senzig posted the video on his YouTube channel on Sunday. Since then, the video has attracted more than
Senzig writes about the song and video post on his own blog here. Here's how he picked the song:
I am a video game addict and fell off the wagon to play Portal. My son kept telling me it was such an amazing game but I had to wait until I had 20 hours straight to play it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop. Going to work with no sleep is no fun but I had to play it for “research” purposes.
One of the reasons I chose this piece is because of the beautifully thin and pure quality the song calls for. That is our usual tone color.
The choir sang the song in the dark and used flashlights to choreograph the show. Also, the soloist, a third-grader, wore a light-up dress designed by Gifford strings teacher Angela Janota-Peavler. Middle-schooler Hallie Senzig accompanied on bells, high-schooler Jeremy Peters played guitar and other adult volunteers contributed to the song.
The Internet acclaim is the latest success for the choir, which, thanks to Senzig, has something of an international following. Senzig, with the support of the Dairy Statesman singing group, organized a competition last year to commission an original piece of music for the Gifford Children's Choir. Composers from around the world inquired about the contest, and entries were received from the U.S. and Brazil.
A song by composer Harvey Sollberger was selected, and the choir debuted the composition at the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association's annual meeting in January. They were the only elementary school in the state to perform at the conference.
Along with "Still Alive," which is a fairly simple choir piece, Senzig said his students perform high level compositions with three and four-part harmonies. At the school's concert last Thursday, where "Still Alive" was recorded, the choir performed three remarkably difficult pieces, Senzig said.
"It was the hardest music I've ever done with kids," he said. "They really stretched for those performances."
Local residents can get a chance to see the students perform "Still Alive" at UW-Parkside at 3:30 p.m. on May 2. The choir will also sing a song with the UW-Parkside choir and premiere a new piece by Alyssa Seversen of Eau Claire called “El Tiburron." Tickets for the show are $6 general admission, $4 for students, staff and seniors. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 595-2564 or email email@example.com
All of the work done to organize and run the Gifford Children's Choir is volunteer, and the choir actually runs at a deficit to put on performances. Not even Senzig, who is a music teacher at the school, is paid to oversee the choir.
Any contributions to help the Gifford Children's Choir are appreciated. If you are able to donate at this time, make checks out to Gifford School 8332 Northwestern Ave, Racine WI 53406 and turn them into me or the office with a note that it is a donation to “choir club.” Get a receipt and it should be tax deductible.
You can also donate to Senzig through PayPal at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: Here's a video of the original song, which appears over the credits for the game "Portal" ...