NEW MANCHESTER - If the Oak Glen High School Chorus' scheduled performance with the rock group Foreigner on Friday "Feels Like the First Time," that's because it will be.
And most likely the last.
Chorus Director Wendy Zinn recognized the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when she saw it last spring. One day she got a call from Foreigner Marketing Director John Lappen asking if the choir would accompany the band on the song "I Want to Know What Love Is" at Friday's concert at the Harvey E. Arneault Memorial Theatre and Event Centre, popularly known as the Harv.
FOREIGNER — The current touring version of Foreigner is, from left, Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Mick Jones (lead guitar), Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Tom Gimbel (rhythm guitar, saxophone) and Jeff Pilson (bass). The drummer is Chris Frazier. - Contributed
What high school choir director wouldn't want her choir to be rock stars for a day?
Zinn's answer was an obvious "yes."
With students starting back to school this past Thursday, it gives the chorus' 25 members about a week to learn the song, Foreigner's No. 1 single from 1984, and the chorus parts sung originally by the New Jersey Mass Choir.
"It is a little bit challenging," Zinn said, "but I think the chorus will do really well with this because they have a good ear. It's different from anything I've ever taught them. It's good because it uses another musical skill."
Zinn said she will not have sheet music of the song, so the choir will have to learn the song by ear. The crash course will involve choir members learning their parts by repeatedly listening to the recorded version, which appeared on Foreigner's "Agent Provocateur" LP and whose video saw heavy rotation on MTV.
"It'll be the first thing we get started on. We'll work on it a little bit every day," Zinn said. "I think they're very excited about it. Singing with an internationally known rock group is not something you would normally get to do in a high school chorus."
The choir will not, however, have the opportunity to rehearse with the band, Zinn said.
"It's a very easy song to learn. They just have to show up the night of the show," Lappen said.
Foreigner has been performing with high school choirs, mostly in North America, for five years as part of the band's effort to support music education in public schools, Lappen said.
"We at Foreigner totally believe that the arts, and certainly music, should be part of a normal core curriculum in high school," Lappen said. "Unfortunately, that's not always the case in this country."
In addition to singing with the band, the choir will sell a live greatest hits CD/DVD set to concertgoers before and after the show. A portion of the proceeds from those sales will be donated to the Grammy Foundation to support its mission of bolstering instrumental music education in public schools.
"As far as I'm concerned, music is not only the most powerful form of communication between the peoples of the world, it provides a gateway that opens up a fantastic new dimension of feeling and creativity ...," Foreigner guitarist and founding member Mick Jones said. "Anything we can do to provide our young ones with the tools to express themselves through music, is our goal in this partnership."
The CD/DVD set sells for $20, which includes a drawing ticket for the chance to win an electric guitar autographed by Foreigner members. The guitar will be given away at the end of the concert.
As part of its charity initiative, Foreigner also will donate $500 to the Oak Glen High School Chorus for use in its music program.
"Our favorite part is seeing the kids on stage with the band and giving them a chance at a lifetime memory," Lappen said. "It's really become a trademark part of the band's show. The band loves it."
Tickets for the concert at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort are still available by calling (800) 804-0468, extension 8297, or by visiting the website, MOREatMountaineer.com.