Local News

Sunday, Feb 02 2014 08:17 PM

Super Bowl finishes distant second to BHS concert

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    While many were watching the Super Bowl, the Bakersfield High School Chorale and Chamber singers under the direction of Christopher Borges were performing Sunday as part of the Fred & Beverly Dukes Memorial Concert Series at the First Congregational Church.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Jeremiah Reddick, a player on BHS' state champion football team, videotapes the school choir during its performance in The Fred & Beverly Dukes Memorial Concert Series held Sunday at the First Congregational Church. Even though the concert was scheduled during the Super Bowl, he says he was just as committed to the choir as he was to the football team.

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  3. 3 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The Bakersfield High School Chorale and Chamber singers perform Sunday under the direction of Christopher Borges as part of The Fred & Beverly Dukes Memorial Concert Series at the First Congregational Church.

    click to expand click to collapse
  4. 4 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Christopher Borges directs the Bakersfield High School Chorale and Chamber singers Sunday as part of The Fred & Beverly Dukes Memorial Concert Series at the First Congregational Church.

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BY STEVE LEVIN Californian staff writer slevin@bakersfield.com

The choice was stark. In this corner, Super Bowl XLVIII, America distilled into $4 million 30-second commercials about puppies and Clydesdales, with more than 100 million Americans plus viewers in nearly 200 other countries glommed onto TVs.

And in this corner, the Bakersfield High School Chorale and Chamber Singers, with about 80 people in the audience.

As one of four committee members of the Fred & Beverly Dukes Memorial Concert Series, Helen Rummelsburg didn't know until Saturday that the Super Bowl would conflict with the concert. She helped set the date back in August.

Her response when told by First Congregational Church Pastor David Stabenfeldt of the televised competition was, "Uh, oh."

"Evidently, the first Sunday in February is a good one to avoid," Rummelsburg said.

"Next year..." she said wistfully, like an oft-disappointed sports fan, her voice trailing off.

The 60-some members of the high school choir knew what they were up against. They had their game faces on. So did Director Christopher Borges.

"Let's be in the game!" he chastised some choir members about 3:30, a half hour before the concert began and about the same time the Seahawks took a 2-0 lead over the Broncos.

Markus Hubbard was lounging in a pew along with fellow seniors David Franco and Frank Amaya, waiting for their bass contingent to be called. He found out three weeks ago the concert was on Super Bowl Sunday.

"I said, 'What? The same day as the Super Bowl? You're crazy, Mr. Borges,'" Hubbard, 17, said.

Borges, in his 14th year as director, met the challenge head-on.

"I told them, 'I understand it's a bad day to have a concert,'" he said. "'But we have to be professional about it.' That's what I push with them: to be professional."

And they were. Compared to the Super Bowl mismatch, the concert was a sublimely seamless celebration, featuring everything from Haitian folk songs to Bach.

Choir voices rich as port and delicate as fluted glass floated above the pews. By the time "Seasons of Love" was sung, the fat lady, for all intents and purposes, had sung her song at the Super Bowl.

But the choir was just getting started.

Jeremiah Reddick videotaped it all. A running back on the Drillers' football state championship team and a member of the choir, the tenor was picked to film the concert because he hadn't had time to learn all the selections.

The difference between the choir and the football team, Reddick said, is that "there's no bench for the choir. Everyone has to be able to play."

Reddick said both Borges and Drillers' head coach Paul Golla emphasize repitition and practice.

"Both coaches pound it into our mind, the hard work it takes to be great," he said. "Whether there's one person in the stands or many, you have to do your best."

Just to keep his bases covered though, throughout the concert Reddick had the game streaming on his cellphone.

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