The Baldwin High School choir took center stage at Jones Beach on Aug. 2, as the opening act for the classic rock band Foreigner during its historic farewell tour.
Foreigner had announced that the concert, which also included the rock group Loverboy, would mark the final time the group would go on tour.
The concert featured a special guest appearance from the group of musically gifted students from Baldwin, thanks to a radio contest.
“I felt absolute disbelief,” Kristine Costello, the high school’s choir teacher, said when she found out that her class will be opening for Foreigner and Loverboy. “And the first thing I did was I called my colleague, who teaches the choir in the middle school, and I was like, ‘You’re not going to believe this.’”
Costello explained that a parent of one of her students sent her a link stating that WBAB, a Long Island classic rock radio station, was hosting a contest. The contest invited musical groups to send video submissions of them performing a classic rock song. Initially, Costello was hesitant to submit anything, because if the choir had been chosen, she had no idea when she would be asked to perform and if the students even would be available.
“Finally, I was like, ‘What the heck. I’ll just apply,’” Costello said. “I don’t think we were the only ones chosen to perform, but whoever else was chosen, did not show up to perform.”
For the video submission, Costello’s choir chose to sing “Somebody to Love” by Queen.
During the Aug. 2 concert, the choir sang “Open Arms” by Journey, and four Billy Joel hits: “My Life,” “Honesty,” “Piano Man,” and “New York State of Mind.” Costello said that it was “really cool” for her choir to have its own mini performance before Foreigner and Loverboy came on stage.
“We found out in June that we would be performing,” Costello said. “And I sent out a commitment form and 26 kids committed. Out of those 26, only 14 performed, but they were coming to rehearsals over the summer out of the goodness of their heart, making time in their day, to commit to doing this and rehearsing this on their own.”
Costello said that all 14 students who performed were “incredibly excited,” and she added that they all worked really hard. Costello and her students felt super nervous when they walked on stage, so the performance “wasn’t as strong” as she expected it to be, she said.
“We’re all freaking out,” Costello said. “You go backstage and walk along the water where all the boats come in and they’re unloading trucks, and you’re just like, ‘What are we doing?’ And it’s pretty intimidating when you get on that stage.”
Costello summed up the feelings in three words: “excitement, nervousness and surreal.” Despite the nerves, Costello said that the choir did a “beautiful job,” and they had a good time performing. She added that the students’ parents were thrilled, because a number of them listened to Foreigner and Loverboy growing up.
The choir had to arrive at Jones Beach Theater a half-hour before the 5 p.m. sound check, and a couple of parents volunteered to drive the students in different cars. Costello said that Jones Beach Theater was about a third full for the performance.
“We’ve applied to perform at (Long Island) Ducks games, (and) at Citi Field, and so this sort of thing doesn’t usually happen to us,” Costello said.
The Jones Beach concert was the second “cool” performance by the choir, with the first taking place almost a year ago when the students traveled to Syracuse to perform at the New York State School Boards Association.
“It seems that these opportunities keep coming up,” Costello said.