Sing for the moment


Photo Credit: Photo Credit: John Fiorino

Caitlin Rundle singing “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” by Ariana Grande accompanied by Nick Evans on piano. — The audio file (below) is performed by Lee Maitner, senior, singing ‘Good Girl’ by Carrie underwood.

by John Fiorino, Staff Writer

In a dimmed cafeteria await the faculty members, the parents (who are accountants, dentists, doctors), and the young musicians – the next Elvis, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Eminem, or Tupac. All of these young voices are about to take the stage in the small town of Glen Rock, New Jersey.

On the evening of Wednesday Oct. 15, Cabaret Night took place in the cafeteria of Glen Rock High School.  The performers were high school students singing to fund their annual choir trip.

“This is the one fundraiser where the students keep 100% of the profit for the choir trip to San Diego,” music teacher Phyllis Sneyers said. Cabaret Night’s directors, Phyllis Sneyers and Carl Helder, are the two faculty members who comprise the high school’s music department.

The beat goes on

Cabaret Night has a long history in Glen Rock High School.

“This will be the 25 year anniversary of Cabaret Night,” Sneyers said.

However, the event has changed over the years.

“It started out as a talent show — that was before Glenstock, which became a rock show. The following year it became an acoustic program,” Sneyers said.

The Cabaret Night acoustic program has held true to this day. Acoustic music involves naturally produced sound, and it does not rely on electronic accompaniment.

Every year, students from all grades levels perform acts that range from a Capella singing to sets by alternative bands.

Music teacher Carl Helder is going into his tenth year at the event.

He recalled a memorable performance by the “super piano virtuoso Jae Kim, who is now studying at Julliard across the street from the Metropolitan Opera House.”  He added, “There have been really good acts every year, but that’s the one that sticks in my mind.”

Yet the acts are not limited to traditional performance — the occasional unique act has impressed and surprised many audience members.

“We’ve had everything from people playing a literal saw to classical pianists,” Sneyers said.

The advisers of Cabaret Night do not invite special performers to the event, as the night revolves around the students.

“There are about 30 to 35 auditions,” Sneyers said. Nevertheless, not everyone who auditions gets in.

“We judge based on how ready for performance they are,” she said. “This includes whether they read from sheet music or not.”

Some might consider it harsh to judge based on readiness and not the quality of the performance.  However, Sneyers brings up a good point. Many family members and staff members attend the three hour acoustic program, so the material for the program must “please the audience,” according to Sneyers.

All about that bass

Yet Cabaret Night’s performances aren’t set-up solely acoustically, with only a microphone hooked up to the speaker. There’s a lot more to the process, behind-the-scenes work that involves a soundboard.

A soundboard is a device that people in the music business (or anyone handling sound effects [FX]) use when working a performance like Cabaret Night. Soundboards, similar to the one in Glen Rock on the night of Oct. 15, are found even at the biggest concert venues: Madison Square Garden, the Izod Center, and Metlife Stadium.

At Glen Rock’s Cabaret Night, Carl Helder was behind the soundboard.  (For full disclosure: the author of this article also helped behind the soundboard.)

“We have control of the regular volume, bass, mid (mid-range), treble, effects (FX) like reverb, separate volume on stage for performers that’s called the monitor-send,” Helder said.

No tremble

As much as the staff and soundboards help when it comes to the atmosphere and result of the performance, it cannot take away from the anxiety the student-performers feel.

As they step onto the stage, the performer must retain the utmost poise. This essential emotional control can be gained from experience and an initial good reception. Anna Barton, junior at Glen Rock High School, knows this from experience.

“The first Café Cabaret, I was extremely nervous,” Barton said. “But the second time it was much easier to just get there.”

Clearly that held true based on her unforgettable performance of Amazing Grace at last year’s annual Cabaret Night, when she performed as a sophomore.

Abby Koenig, senior at Glen Rock High School, also knows of the notorious pre-performance nerves that come to most, if not all, performers.

“I always get nervous before I perform,” Koenig said. “It’s usually because I think I’m going to forget the lyrics, but I’m fine once I get on stage.”

However, after their nerves are worked through and the performance is over, the performers feel a sense of accomplishment that rushes through them.

“I just love how parents and classmates all come together to support their friends and everyone is always so talented,” Koenig said.

In a school sponsored event where the main stage is in the school, with all parents and staff watching, all students ask for is respect and appreciation.

“Just the feeling of accomplishment” made it worth it for Barton. “It felt so good to be told ‘nice job,'” she said.


Here is 1/2 of the Evans quadruplets, with brothers Nick and Dan Evans, seniors, performing ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton. Dan is on vocals and guitar and Nick on piano: Wonderful Tonight performed by Nick and Dan Evans