This Sunday, August 7, legendary rock band Foreigner will perform on the pavilion stage at Bethel Woods (BW) with some very special guests. In addition to the Eagles’ Don (“Hotel …
This Sunday, August 7, legendary rock band Foreigner will perform on the pavilion stage at Bethel Woods (BW) with some very special guests. In addition to the Eagles’ Don (“Hotel California”) Felder, who will open for Foreigner, the classic rockers have invited members of the Sullivan West Select Choir to make its BW debut. Under the leadership of choir director Jerry Hoch, the students have been rehearsing and preparing for their big night.
With 10 multi-platinum albums and 16 Top 30 hits, Foreigner has been described as “one of the most popular rock acts in the world, with a formidable musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, now exceeding 80 million records.” (Wikipedia)
Responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems, including “Juke Box Hero,” “Cold as Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” and “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” the band is arguably best known for their number-one hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is.”
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with several of the Sullivan West teenagers and asked them all the same question: “How would you describe your reaction when you heard the news?”
Cheyenne: “It’s an amazing opportunity to show what a small-town choir can do.”
Caitlyn: “I was pretty shocked! I’m not used to doing big performances like this. Music has been a huge thing for me, so I’m really excited to be doing it.”
Charles: “I just went to a concert at Bethel Woods [Brian Wilson/Chicago], and while I was watching them on stage it hit me—I’m going to be up there, too—the very idea has me incredulous. It’s hard to believe.”
Turning to choir director Hoch, I asked for his thoughts. “Singing on the Pavilion stage at Bethel Woods and being an opener for a famous rock band like Foreigner is an amazing opportunity for these students—one they will never forget. These [young people] are so talented and dedicated—giving up days and hours of their summer to prepare our program. We have four seniors who graduated in June who were willing to come back for this chance to participate.”
Foreigner has a history of performing with choirs from around the world, and happily for the students at Sullivan West, this tour is no exception. A budding musician himself, 16-year-old Henry said, “I play guitar—so yes, I’m pretty excited. We’re prepared and I think it’s going to be cool.”
Select Choir member Ariel agreed. “It means a lot to me to be able to have this wild opportunity. To be seen not only as a high school student, but as one [hoping to be part of] the music industry, singing next to these amazing people that I get to share this experience with. I am definitely more than grateful to be able to do this.”
Junior class member Lucy concurred. “It’s nice to have a select group of people who know how to sing and enjoy it. I work at Bethel Woods with young kids in their summer programs and it’s one of my favorite places. So I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be on the stage with these people.”
The Sullivan West Select Choral Ensemble is an honors choir at the school that primarily performs a cappella music of various styles ranging from Renaissance madrigals to popular songs. Students are chosen to be a part of this choir through auditions. The choir performs at annual school concerts as well as throughout the community during the school year and this concert (IMHO) will be one they’ll remember for a lifetime.
For tickets and information, go to www.bethelwoodscenter.org.
Fun Fact: The name of the band Foreigner was chosen because half of the original members were from England, and the other half from the U.S. The group has had quite a few people join and leave, but one of the originals, Mick Jones, (not Mick Jagger) stayed the whole time. Foreigner celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017, with Mick still there.
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