Entries by Deirdre Ryan Commercial Photography

Allentown High School’s Half and Half Acapella Choir- NJ Photographer

From The Messenger Press:
ALLENTOWN: Singers hoping for hometown support in TV talent show
DATE POSTED: Thursday, May 3, 2012 1:05 AM EDT
By Rachel Lavery, Special Writer
ALLENTOWN — The lush sounds of unaccompanied harmonies fill the choir room as Half and Half, Allentown High School’s a cappella group, sings its version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic.
   Led by vocal music teacher Mark Megill, the group, so named because it is made up of 10 boys and 10 girls, will be competing on MSG Varsity’s Talent Show. The group’s first performance will air 8 p.m. Sunday, May 6 on Cablevision. It can also be viewed on the show’s website: msgvarsitytalentshow.com.
   Half and Half’s talent show journey began when Superintendent Richard Fitzpatrick heard about the contest and encouraged Mr. Megill to enter. Eight schools from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are competing in the Vocal Ensemble division in this elimination-style talent show that is now in its second season.
   If the Allentown High students receive enough votes after their first performance Sunday, they will get the opportunity to move to the next round and another performance will be aired.
   Dr. Fitzpatrick said the students were counting on the community to support them by watching the show and voting online.
   ”We know we have the talent, now we need to get the votes as well,” Dr. Fitzpatrick said at the April 18 Board of Education meeting.
   After three rounds, contest winners in each of the show’s categories — Solo Vocalists, Vocal Ensembles and Dance Ensembles — will be announced June 3. The winner of the Vocal Ensemble category will travel to New York City for a theater workshop with actors from the Broadway show “Memphis” and then see a performance of “Memphis.”
   Half and Half filmed their performances for the competition in March at SUNY Westbrook on Long Island. The entire process was professional from the recording and the stage to the make-up artists provided, Mr. Megill said. “Sweet Home Alabama,” Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and N’Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” made up the group’s set list, but only one of those songs will air Sunday.
   Half and Half is an a cappella group, but for this competition, they have been working with musical accompaniment tracks and have even added dance to their performances. Two AHS students who are dancers assisted with choreography.
   The singers meet weekly throughout the year to rehearse, but had to add extra rehearsals to prepare for the show. They begin each rehearsal with a variety of vocal warm-ups and then continue to work on the songs in their repertoire. The students are focused in rehearsal and obviously have an excellent rapport with each other and their affable director. With Mr. Megill’s assistance, the students, create their own arrangements, adding harmonies and riffs they create together.
   ”This was really a lot of fun for the group,” Mr. Megill said. The students chose the songs they would use for the competition, and if the reaction of the other kids at the taping is any indication, their choices will be very well received, he said.
   Most importantly, this group of talented singers needs their fellow students and community to watch them Sunday and to participate in the voting process, Mr. Megill said.
 Viewers can vote after the performance by going online to www.msgvarsitytalentshow.com.
The members of Half and Half are: Ariana Albarella, Brianna Chin, Hannah Cuffari, Ligia DePompo, Jason Diaz, Jordan Fisher, Angelisa Hinton, Amanda Kilcher, Westin Lohne, Morgan Lubbe, Michael Massey, Eric Mendelsohn, Dylan Myers, Emily Nalbone, Will Olexsak, Michael Olio, Jay Scott, Mary Toth, Kaitlyn Wilhalme and Dave Zarish.

Wassailing the Apple Trees at Terhune Orchards-Princeton Packet Photographer

This happened back on Sunday, January 29rd, 2012 at Terhune Orchards in Princeton, NJ. 

“Wassailing the apple trees was especially popular in the cider-making regions of southern and western England where celebrants would gather around a big, old apple tree and sing traditional songs. They made noise through the branches to scare away spirits, and toasted the tree’s health with warm cider passed around in a bucket. Some cider was also poured over tree roots, and cider-soaked toasted bread was placed on its branches. 

The ceremony also included blowing horns and thrashing the tree with hopes of increasing productivity during the coming growing season.
This custom was especially important during a time when part of a laborer’s wages was paid in apple cider. Landlords needed a good apple crop to attract good workers. Wassailing was meant to keep the tree safe from spirits until the next year’s apples appeared. Those who celebrate on old Twelfth Night drink the cider produced during the past year and offer toasts to a bountiful new year.”-Terhune Orchards
Some of these images were published in The Princeton Packet, one of the many papers published by http://www.centraljersey.com.


Spice Punch Quartet