I don't know where to begin in expressing my gratitude to the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra and directors Erin Freeman and JoAnn Falletta. The opportunity provided to my students was one that, not only had I never foreseen but, that even looking back at it I can hardly comprehend its magnitude. As a school choir director with a degree in voice performance, I recognize that the option of being able to perform with a symphonic choir is likely available to me. Having never done so, however, my experience with the BPC was exhilarating. The sheer vivaciousness of all of our voices combined together creates a lasting impression and a desire to return. But, even more than this, what gave me the greatest sense of joy and accomplishment is knowing what my students gained from the experience. Seeing the work they put in each and every day to be able to stand proudly next to members of the BPC, holding their own and working together with all the ensembles involved and recognizing the sense of accomplishment that they brought with them into the classroom was monumental. Having ideas reinforced by a professional choir director such as Dr. Freeman as well as new ones to invigorate them, I don't think I can express enough what this experience meant to my students and what it has meant for their mentality and attitude in the classroom. They are no longer a random conglomerate of students who happen to meet once a day in a small farm town school. They are a hard working and accomplished choir who has performed on a professional level. That is something that will live in our halls for generations. Thank you.
----- Drew Burke - Director of Choral Activities at Barker Central School
Barker Central Student Reflections
Performing with the Buffalo Philharmonic was a once in a lifetime opportunity. There are many people who don’t get the chance to do a performance like this, and we did while we are still in high school. Working with the BPC was special because even just tips from Dr. Freeman have helped shape us as musicians. Lastly I would like to thank everyone involved in the BPC, Dr. Freeman and Mr. Burke for making this experience possible, and enjoyable.
The BPO and choir performance was a fantastic experience. Singing usually feels good, but that day it was glorious. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Dr. Freeman was very knowledgeable and fun to work with.
Singing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus was an amazing experience. It was an honor to sing with so many talented people. I would gladly go and sing with them again. I am so grateful that I got the chance to sing with them while I’m in high school. It was truly a once in a lifetime chance.
The Barker Concert Choir is the premiere vocal ensemble at Barker Central School. The northeastern most school in Niagara County, BCS has a student body of fewer than one thousand enrolled in K-12. Throughout the last 20 years numerous conductors have led the group, currently under the direction of Mr. Drew Burke. Over the last few years the choir has much to be proud of. The group has nearly doubled in size, and more than quadrupled the number of males involved. In addition to school events, the group performs each year at a Veteran's Day banquet, and has in the past performed in a fashion show to raise money for breast cancer research and at the Medina Railroad Museum’s annual Polar Express event. While budget cuts have affected schools across New York State, the Barker Concert Choir has continued to not only maintain a tradition of excellence, but exceed expectations and intends to do so for years to come
Drew Burke is the director of choral activities for grades 5-12 at Barker Central School. A local of Niagara County, Drew is in his fourth year at Barker where he conducts five vocal ensembles and will serve this year as director of the school musical. A 2008 graduate from Houghton College with a BMus in music education in 2008 and a MMus in voice performance from the University of Buffalo in 2010, Drew has accomplished much in a short time. In addition to teaching, Drew is a member of vocal group Vox Lumine, the Somerset Barbershop Quartet, the rock group “Time Travelers” and has performed with numerous local theatre companies. In 2013, Drew was selected to conduct the Niagara County Jr. High All-County Chorus and co-directs the choir at St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Niagara Falls.