The Council Rock High School South choir has quite the reason to celebrate this holiday season.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the group was named the winner of B101.1’s annual Christmas Choir Competition in the grades 9-12 division. This news was announced by radio hosts Bill Tafrow and Jenn Ryan on the station’s morning show, which the students were listening to with bated breath. When they heard their school’s name called, screams and cheers erupted throughout the classroom.
Not only did the choir receive a $5,000 cash prize, it joined The Philly Pops on stage at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia for the group’s Christmas concert “Spectacular Sounds of the Season.” The choir’s winning song “Mambo, Santa, Mambo” will also be played on B101.1 throughout the season.
“We’ve been doing this competition since 2009. We’ve never won,” said choir director Corey Axler. “We’ve been so honored to have been in the semifinals several of those times, but this feels unbelievable. This feels incredible.”
According to Axler, most of the $5,000 cash prize will be put toward a Council Rock South scholarship fund that financially assists students with ambitions of playing an instrument in the program.
Regarding “Mambo, Santa, Mambo,” Axler enjoyed the rendition by acapella group The Bobs and rearranged it with an Austin Powers-esque sound “just to give it a fun flair.” He hoped that switching things up and giving listeners something fresh would give the choir an advantage.
And it certainly did.
“Every year, the pieces get better and better,” he said. “I listen to them on the radio and go, ‘Oh my gosh, how are we gonna beat that? They’re so incredible.’ ”
Listeners of B101.1 voted for and ultimately decided the winner of the competition through various rounds, with participants hailing from across the Delaware Valley. Coming in second place was Ridley High School followed by third-place finisher Council Rock High School North. They earned a $2,000 and $1,000 cash prize, respectively.
When asked if there’s a rivalry between the two schools, Axler stressed that there’s no bad blood. In fact, the choir director of Council Rock North, Ryan Carlin, is a former student of Axler’s who competed in the Christmas Choir Competition.
“It’s kind of a full-circle thing,” said Axler.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com