Chris Koza leads Cotter choir in concert

The Cotter choir performed backing vocals on two songs with Minneapolis musician Chris Koza in front of the  student body during an afternoon assembly on Thursday, November 15.

Koza’s appearance was made possible through the partnership with MidWest Music Fest and their Educational Outreach Program, led by Parker Forsell.

Koza worked with the choir in class on Wednesday and then in flex on Thursday.  He had previously sent music to Mrs. Snyder to prep for the show.

The show lasted the full assembly period or just under an hour.

Koza  opened with a solo number called “Drown”.

The Cotter choir performed “Requiem’ by Eliza Gilkyson.

The choir then backed up Koza on his song “Onward and Over”.

Koza followed with four solo songs on acoustic guitar and harmonica, each of  which, he said, represented a season.  “The Planting Moon”,  the spring song which he said is from the perspective of a long haul trucker.  Next was “Blackberry Moon”,  a riff on a childhood memory and the inevitable regret of seasons passing by too fast.  “Geese in the Flyway”, a story of family and time spent together, and “Icebox”, a story which perhaps uses the northern winter as a metaphor for lost relationship but also survival with a little humor worked in,  ironically the hockey players got up to leave during this song,

The choir rejoined Koza on his song The Wolves and Ravens.” a wistful song about traveling through the uncharted territory without a former partner.

Koza then took questions form the audience before leading the crowd in a sing-a-long of the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me”.

Bewteen songs Koza spoke of the artist’s lifestyle and how he enjoys pursuing creativity on a full time basis and encouraged students to follow their passions in music and the arts.  He also spoke of how rewarding it is to live his life with a community of musicians.  Koza lives in Mpls,  but is originally from Portland Oregon.

“I’m definitely a fan now!” Ms. Snyder was thrilled to admit. “I really like his songs, lyrics and his sense of humor. It was a great experience for the choir”

I really like his songs, lyrics and his sense of humor. It was a great experience for the choir”

— Cathy Snyder

“I was really proud of the choir, they worked really hard to get stuff done and do well, considering their short timeline.”

Snyder felt as if the choir’s biggest struggle was learning how to become “back-up singers” and knowing which part they have during the songs, either having the melody or harmony.

Mrs. Fitch and Mr. Costello helped coordinate the event.  Mr. Costello had worked with MWMF before on educational outreach and connected Koza and Forsell with Cotter and Mrs. Fitch worked on the scheduling between Koza and the Cotter choir.

Snyder was impressed about the comment Koza made about how you do not need to be a Lady Gaga to be successful in the music industry.

The crowd broke into laughter when Koza was asked his favorite color, “Definitely khaki and navy,” he replied.

Koza plays solo shows, with his band Rogue Valley, and with other collaborations, including joining The New Standards for their annual Christmas shows.

The New Standards recently performed in the St Cecilia theater as part of the Hurry Back Productions as part of the Highway 61 concert series.