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Williamsville choir to perform with the Rolling Stones

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Photo from Jay Moran
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While weekends are always busy for church choirs, the choir from Calvary Episcopal Church in Williamsville has extra duties this weekend. They will be performing on stage with the Rolling Stones Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

The choir has been practicing for this weekend's performance since February, according to Music Director Alex Benestelli. The invitation emerged from  a professional connection made while he was a graduate student at USC.

"I worked with a great friend and colleague named Suzi Digby," Benestelli explained. 

"Suzy runs the London Youth Chorus and she's from the U.K. Her choir has performed with the Rolling Stones before and they asked her to coordinate a choir for each stop on their North American tour."
 

He would not reveal what song or songs the choir has been asked to perform.

"No, we have to leave something for suspense." 

While Benestelli has background with larger productions, most of his choir has not. The group of 24 appearing this weekend is comprised of students and adults.

His advice: "First of all just to have fun. It's going to be a great time. It's a great opportunity for them. We all are so grateful. It's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."     

"Then, second, don't screw up," Benestelli said.

Performing for a congregation of 200 on a Sunday mornings is one matter. Staying focus amidst the din of over 50,000 fans led by a raucous rock-and-roll band is another. Benestelli expects his choir to be focused. They will also receive technical assistance.

"The choir will be using a system called a 'click track,' which is a little piece that goes in each person's ear," Benestelli said.

"From backstage they can give you a pitch, a starting pitch, as well as the tempo so you will hear 'click, click, click' and then you're ready to do. We don't have to use our pitch pipes or tuning forks out there on the stage."

 

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