Participation in the North Bergen High School band and chorus is a year-round commitment. It's not your typical extra-curricular activity.
"Don't forget all the time learning the marching," said band director George Haviland. "It's a never-ending affair."
However, there will be a sense of closure Wednesday night at 7 p.m., when the 200-plus students who participate in the band and chorus perform in the annual spring concert.
"It's the final little musical bash for the year," Haviland said. "It's always a good time for all."
Five different groups will perform Wednesday evening. The performing concert band and jazz band will provide an assortment of numbers, while three vocal contingents, the advanced chorus, the concert choir and the freshman chorus, under the guidance of voice instructor Jennifer Penton, will also perform.
"These kids are really talented," Penton said. "They're like my own kids. I'm so proud of them. They're really talented and they really care about their performance. We try not to teach them one style of music. We teach them all the techniques of the different styles. We had at least 100 members of the chorus all totaled this year. It really grew this year and their energy has been outstanding."
The freshman chorus will sing, "Tears in Heaven," made famous by Eric Clapton. The advanced chorus will perform a combination of songs, ranging from 1940s jazz and the Fred Astaire hit "Cheek to Cheek," to 60s contemporary "Love Potion No. 9."
"It's a nice mix of music," Penton said.
The North Bergen chorus just returned from performing at the "Trills and Thrills Musical Mini-Fest" competition at New Egypt High School that also featured performances at the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park. The judges in the competition gave the North Bergen vocalists a superior rating, scoring 98 points out of a possible 100.
"We're looking forward to putting on a great concert," Penton said.
The two different bands, under the guidance of Haviland, will also perform a variety of tunes. It will begin with a "Festivo," medley, a piece that was written exclusively for band performances. It's an upbeat, furious Latin style of music that excites everyone.
There will be another piece with tribal music and another featuring Irish Celtic music. The jazz band will perform a variety of 1940s swing music.
"We try to offer something that is electric and something diverse," Haviland said. "It really is the highlight of our season."
The band also participated in the event at New Egypt High School and received an excellent rating from the judges, placing among the top three of the 20-plus schools that participated in the festival.
Junior Maria Espinosa, who is a drum major, said that the spring concert is the culmination to a year of hard work.
"We begin preparing for this concert in January," Espinosa said. "I think we all work the hardest for this one, because it involves so many people and brings everyone together. It is our chance to show everyone here how we perform in a group. I really think we feel a sense of appreciation more in a concert here. It's our night and it shows everyone that this is the outcome of our hard work."
The 7 p.m. concert is the first event to be held in the newly refurbished North Bergen High School auditorium.
"We're all excited to be performing there," Haviland said. "It's a great night. It's like their final exams."
Junior Ahmed Badawy, another drum performer, agreed.
"We've been practicing for months, all to have this concert to show how much work we put in," Badawy said. "When we first got together, we didn't sound great, but now, it's such a huge difference. It's been a great experience. I got to meet a lot of people and we have a lot of fun."
After the concert is over, there's no rest for the weary.
"It starts all over again," Haviland said. "The seniors leave and the younger kids move up and we just regroup and keep going. We begin marching rehearsals in July."
Such the rigors of band life. The annual spring concert for the North Bergen High School concert and jazz bands, as well as the concert choir, advanced chorus, and freshman chorus, will be held Wednesday, June 2, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at $5. For more information, call the high school at (201) 295-2800.