Volume 21, Number 34 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 2 - 8, 2009

downtowners add their pitch

Trinity Church’s youth choir recorded a song for the soundtrack to “Doubt,” which is hoping to win more than a few Oscars.

Downtowners add their pitch to ‘Doubt’s hopes

By Candida L. Figueroa

John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Doubt” has gained a new slew of success with its motion picture release last week. The Catholic school drama starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman features Downtown’s own Trinity Church Choir. The movie, surrounded by Oscar buzz and Golden Globe nominations, added 12 of Trinity’s top voices to its soundtrack.

As the assistant organist for Trinity Wall Street, Robert Ridgell didn’t have to think twice when the producers asked if he knew a choir that could record a track on short notice. He oversees the community youth choir, with choristers ranging in age from 9 to 18. With producer Scott Rudin and executive producer Celia Costas listening to a dozen voices and watching two dozen fidgety hands, “Ubi Caritas,” a Roman Catholic hymn, bounced off the chapel walls at the College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale.

Even though there were no lights and camera, there was action.

Dante Vega, 10, remembers someone on set shouting “Oh! That was perfect!” and “Oh! Wait, that was a little too pitchy!” all in the same breath. After a sea of sighs, the chorus continued with takes. “If a voice goes wrong the whole thing goes wrong. It was challenging so when we got it we were really, really happy,” added Vega, a fifth grader at P.S. 234.

Chloe Combs, 11, a sixth grader at Claremont Prep, can’t even remember how long it took because she was “too excited to time it.”

“We were all jumping up and down screaming our heads off. We couldn’t really contain ourselves or sit still.”
After seven hours of performing, including a pizza break, the track was soon placed side by side with the ending scene of the movie. Miramax provided the choir with money for scholarships, as well as $180 per chorister.

Though it will be years until some of the choristers can see the movie, because of its PG-13 rating, Ridgell said it was an honor that they were featured. “For the chorus, it was a really wonderful music opportunity to be involved in the film. I know this is something they’ll never forget.”




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