ASU Glee-inspired show choir returns

GLEE CLUB: ASU student and Gleeders founder Amanda Nguyen rehearses with local Tempe high school and middle school students. Nguyen started the program last fall at Corona Del Sol High School. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Nguyen)

A student-run show choir inspired by the hit TV show “Glee” is starting its second semester with refreshed focus and direction.

GLEEders was started as a program last fall for ASU students to coach a show choir performed by Tempe high school and middle school students.

This semester the 10 ASU students participating will maintain their role as mentors, but they will also join in the performances with the sixth through 12th grade students, said Amanda Nguyen, the founder of GLEEders and a theater and business junior at ASU.

The choirs started in September with 90 people in the program, Nguyen said. About 60 people performed in the final concerts held in December at ASU and Corona Del Sol High School.

Nguyen called the final concert last semester an “awesome” success.

“The ballroom could have been dark and empty and silent. But instead we filled it with music,” Nguyen said.

With about 35 students participating this semester, mechanical engineering sophomore Genevieve Ticlo, the head of vocals for GLEEders, said the group will eliminate tryouts to help build a sense of community in the club.

All participants will sing in the same choir this semester, Nguyen said. Last semester the students worked on three separate shows.

“It’s about loving music for music, and not for the competitive aspect,” Ticlo said.

The GLEEders prepared 14 songs last semester, but Nguyen said they will now focus on just three songs to make it less stressful for everyone involved.

This semester they plan to sing a mash-up of three Journey songs, including “Any Way You Want It,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Faithfully,” as well as a ballad version of “Firework” by Katy Perry. They may also include a medley of Michael Jackson songs.

Nguyen is also planning a theme for each week, like love songs or Broadway songs, similar to the themes picked on “Glee” each week.  The students will have the opportunity to prepare group or solo acts during rehearsal based around that theme.  These performances may be incorporated into the final concert.

Ticlo said the budget for the choir was much smaller than planned. The group received some funding from the Student Organization Resource Center at ASU to pay for sheet music, but they had to raise funds on their own to pay for the lighting equipment used for their concerts.

They also received outside donations from local sandwich shop Dilly’s Deli and auto repair shop Ultra Collision.

This semester the group is applying for funding through Tempe’s Undergraduate Student Government to cover costs of the end-of-the-semester performances.

The concerts have not been scheduled yet, but Nguyen said she expects they will be held in late April or early May.

Melanie Hazeldene, a senior at Corona Del Sol High School who participated in the show choir last semester, said the new semester brought in fresh talent and she was excited for a new start. She also thought streamlining the program was a good idea for the leadership.

“They are university kids, they should only have to deal with one group of students,” Hazeldene said.

She said she’s interested in being a music education major and she gets involved in every choir opportunity offered at school.

Ticlo said her group started working with students at Corona Del Sol High School because of its strong choir program.

Greg Hebert, the choir director at Corona, said in an e-mail that 250 students are enrolled in the five choir classes offered at his school.

One of the goals of the GLEEders is eventually to reach out to high schools that don’t have music programs so they fill that need in the community.

“We want to address the importance of keeping the arts in public schools,” Ticlo said.

Reach the reporter at mary.shinn@asu.edu