Spring choir concert bringing a capella to Unionville

The latest trend in singing which has been sweeping the nation has been a capella ever since shows like “Glee” and movies like “Pitch Perfect” have made it popular.

The Unionville High School choir has taken hold of this trend and is putting on a pop/a capella show Thursday for friends, family and anyone who is interested.

What makes it unique is that six of the songs in the show were arranged by a local dentist, Joe Eckman.

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“(Jason Throne) had a great idea for a spring concert, which he decided to name ‘Songs from My iPod,’” Eckman said. “He wanted the kids to get excited about singing more popular music.”

Throne, the choir director at the high school, approached Eckman about arranging some of the songs.

Don’t let his profession of dentistry fool you. Eckman actually has a B.A. in music.

“I like to do vocal arrangements and things like that,” he said. “(Throne) came to me this summer and asked if I could arrange some things. I ended up doing six pieces that you hear on the radio, but is more in a choral style now.”

To make things more fun for the students, Throne even allowed them to have a hand in choosing which pieces they would sing.

“He left it up to the kids,” Eckman said. “He told them to pick their top two songs they would like to have arranged. There was a list in the summertime and then another list in December. All the songs that were chosen were picked from the list the kids made.”

Some of the songs chosen, which have been arranged by Eckman, include “Some Nights” by Fun., “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Royals” by Lorde and a medley of Justin Timberlake tracks.

But that’s just a small sample of what they will be doing.

Though Eckman has only seen the students practice twice before the concert, he could see the enjoyment they were having with the pieces.

“Of the small amount of time I’ve seen the kids perform, they’re having a ton of fun performing songs you hear on the radio,” he said. “This style and type of music is really big. It’s just very in to sing that style of music.”

Eckman, who is a Kennett High School graduate, is no stranger to a capella singing as he was involved with it during his time in school.

Although at that time, he was way ahead of the trend.

“I formed my own little a capella group,” Eckman said. “It was just myself and four other guys. I probably was born 15 or 20 years too early because it was not a very cool thing to do at that point, but we had a ton of fun.”

From that experience, he learned how to arrange for men’s voices, which has helped with what he’s been doing for the Unionville choir.

It has been a labor of love for the dentist, who has locations in Willowdale and Jennersville. Each of the six songs has taken him hours of work around his profession.

“Probably per song, I spent a good five to 10 hours,” Eckman said. “I wanted to make sure it was just right.”

After all those hours, Eckman surprisingly isn’t completely sick of all the songs, though there are a couple he’d rather not hear again.

“Some of them I did get tired of listening to, but I enjoyed listening to my takes of the songs,” he said. “I’m less tired of listening to my versions. I’m really excited about hearing what it will sound like with the kids because it’s so different from hearing a computer playback.”

The concert will be held Thursday, May 1, in the Unionville High School auditorium at 7 p.m. and is free to the public.

Note: With the recent flooding, the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District was closed on May 1. The spring concert has been postponed to Tuesday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m.

About the Author

Candice Monhollan

Candice Monhollan is a 2012 Temple University graduate. She loves to cover sports, especially hockey. She enjoys marching with the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps and has a love of U.S. military history, which includes reenacting. Reach the author at cmonhollan@dailylocal.com .