Choir Festival Concert

Chloe Hilgendorf, Writer

The Choir Festival Concert happened on Wednesday March 8th at 7:00pm in the Dakota High School Main Building Auditorium. The performance was directed by Mr. Tyler Dargis the choir teacher, who has been working tirelessly to prepare his students to compete in the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) District Choral Festival. The opening and closing songs were the only ones that the students will not be performing for the upcoming District Choral Festival. Those were learned for this concert only, to sing in front of the friends and family that came to view the show. The competition will be hosted by Dakota on March 13th and 14th where students will perform their songs in front of a panel of judges as well as be given a sheet of music to sight read. 

Unlike most of the other concerts this year, this show was free with first come, first served seating. It had more of a relaxed atmosphere in comparison to their other performances. The choir students sat in the back of the audience in reserved spots when they weren’t on stage. Mr. Dargis spoke while the students got into position on the risers in between each song. He talked about the meaning of the songs, why he chose them, and who they were composed by. The songs were accompanied on the piano, violin, and drums by Ms. Deborah Szeliga, Ms. Melody Wooton, and Mr. Matthew Balos respectively. 

While Seneca Middle School’s Eighth Grade Choir usually joins Dakota’s Choirs for the Festival Concert, they unfortunately were unable to this year due to a scheduling conflict with conferences. 

The choir students all have color coordinating sashes or bow ties that correspond with their class. The members of Treble Choir wore green, Men’s Choir wore light gray, Women’s Varsity wore purple, and Mixed Varsity wore a deep blue. Many of the students had ribbons pinned to their clothes. These were awarded for their performance in previous MSVMA Solo and Ensemble competitions for receiving high scores. 

The show began with a performance featuring all of the choirs combined to sing “Please Stay”, a song that focuses on teen suicide and sends a message of hope. Alyssa Sharp had a solo, while Cloe Campbell, Kaitlyn Kress, Veronica Pruchnic, Jacob Rogowski, Jada Henderson, Addison Cooper, Danni Recor, Gina Miller, and Colin Mikla all recited lines from a suicide prevention campaign from someone who has considered suicide or had a friend who has. This emotional performance was preceded by Mr. Dargis talking about the discussions he had with his students on how he hopes that choir can be a safe space for anyone with troubles in their lives and that he is always willing to talk to anyone struggling.

Treble Choir, the largest of all the choir classes, sang a cheerful “I’ll Tell My Ma”, which contrasted with their next number. Going along with the theme of the first song of the night, they sang “Does the World Say?” which focuses on the worries people have about not being good enough.  

The Men’s Choir began with “She Walks in Beauty”, a song of admiration. Afterwards they sang their second piece which was all in Italian. One of the most impressive pieces of the night, “’O Sole Mio” began with a solo by Dennis Teolis who was joined in the front by Keegan Amez, Dante Dagati, Salvatore Vitale, and Yanis Valeanu to form a quintet.

Junior Dante Dagati was the only Curtain Act of the night because he recently received a perfect score at the MSVMA District Solo and Ensemble competition for his two songs. He first sang “Pupille Nere” which is fully in Italian, followed by “Money, O!”. Although the second song was in English, it was no less impressive with his powerful voice and large range.

Women’s Varsity sang two ocean themed songs, “The Seal Lullaby” and “The Lobster Quadrille”. The former was slower and softer while the latter was energetic with ridiculous lyrics as it is a song from Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. 

Mixed Varsity began with an upbeat “There’s Gonna Be a Homecomin’” which added a country touch to the performance. Their next piece, “Sure, On This Shining Night” was a special number due to their opportunity to work with a mentor who had close ties to this song.  

Twonta Jones, Dakota senior Nya Jones’ mother, joined the combined choirs as a guest soloist on stage for the finale “I Will Sing”. Ms. Jones is a classically trained opera singer who added her powerful voice to the full choir. She encouraged the audience to stand up and clap their hands along with the performers. It was a wonderful way to close out the show! 

Mr. Dargis announced the choir trip for 2024 during the show. Next year, the Choirs will have the opportunity to travel to New York City to see Broadway Shows and meet the cast! More details will be coming as the plans get finalized. To attend this trip, a student must be in one of the four in-school choir classes. If they only do after-school activities associated with the Choir Program, including Unaccompanied Minors or Show Choir, they will be unable to attend.  

If you missed this concert, there are many upcoming choir events to look forward to! Parents will be allowed to attend the previously mentioned MSVMA District Choral Festival to watch the Dakota Choirs compete. In addition, Dakota Night Live (Dakota’s version of Saturday Night Live) will be coming up soon on April 21st and 22nd. It will feature skits written, directed, and performed by students. Auditions recently happened on March 9th so more information will be coming out soon. On April 25th, 26th, and 27th, all are allowed to attend the MSVMA State Choral Festival to watch Dakota’s Varsity Choirs perform. And finally, the heavily anticipated annual Spring Spectacular will be on May 19th at 7:00pm in the main building auditorium, where the Choir Festival Concert was also held. Tickets are already on sale for this event at