Rock’n Roll Over Beethoven with Branford High

Program of Songs:

1. Beethoven’s Mass in C
2. Africa (Toto)
3. Kashmir (Led Zeppelin)
4. Dream On (Aerosmith)
5. Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
6. Heart Breaker (Pat Benatar)
7. Hotel California (The Eagles)
8. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
9. I’ve Seen All Good People (Yes)
10. Still Loving You (The Scorpions)
11. Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
12. Songs From The Wood (Jethro Tull)
and of course,
13. Roll Over Beethoven! (Chuck Berry)

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Presented by Branford High School Music Program at Woolsey Hall (Yale University) Under the Direction of Cathyann Roding, BHS Choral Director. Music arranged by Drake Smith.

All proceeds went to Branford Counseling Center.

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Photo by Bill O’Brien

Branford Community Foundation Article“Rock ‘n Roll Over Beethoven” was an educational project conceived by Branford High School Choir Director, Cathyann Roding. The Branford Community Foundation was integral in not only supporting the project financially, but giving it the “initial vote of confidence” that was needed in rallying other supporters. On Sunday, May 1, 2011 a concert at Woolsey Hall was enjoyed by a full house!

This project was born of two separate goals that seemed to fit very nicely. First, Cathyann and her students were overwhelmed by the community’s response to help when she and her choir incurred extra expenses as their April 2010 Italy trip got extended due to the volcano in Iceland. She wanted to teach her students about how important it is to “give back to your community.” Second, she wanted her students to compare and contrast two completely different styles of music by analyzing such musical elements as form, chord structure, and line. “Rock ‘n Roll Over Beethoven” accomplished both of these.

Throughout the school year, the Branford High School Choir students studied an entire Beethoven mass and twelve classic rock songs. The first reward was having the opportunity to perform them at historic Woolsey Hall in New Haven with a full orchestra for the Beethoven and a rock band and full orchestra for the rock songs. The second reward was the knowledge that the proceeds from the ticket sales, as well as the concert CD sales, would be donated to the Basic Needs Program at the Branford Counseling Center.

In addition to meeting the goals set out, there were so many other great experiences and benefits for the students. Performing a major work such as the Beethoven “Mass in C” the way Beethoven intended was a life-altering experience for most. Working with an arranger and learning how he took each rock song and created his orchestrations was a lesson in theory, music software programs, thinking out of the box, and creativity! Having Pat Andriole from the Branford Counseling Center come in and talk about the needs of people in Branford was “eye opening” and life changing. The feeling of accomplishment was tremendous and shared by all—just learning that when you are organized, prepared, and work hard you can achieve anything was the greatest lesson.

Without the support of the Branford Community Foundation, almost 200 students would not have had this tremendous educational experience.

Rehearsal with Director Cathyann Roding

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