Over the years, Fairmont has hosted a slate of professional musicians from around the nation. High-powered string group Barrage, professional fiddler Alex DePue, superstar singers Delilah, and many others have performed here.
And with the recent appearance of Chris Allen, The Flyer asked, “Why and how do these groups come to Fairmont?” and “What do they think of us?”
Singer/songwriter Chris Allen came to Fairmont with the Ohio City Singers to perform with the orchestra, directed by Rich Wright. Allen and the Symphony Orchestra played a holiday concert in November.
“To lock these two things with each other will be scary at first, but it’ll be great once it’s all together,” said Allen before the show. His prediction came true.
How did he get brought in, though? “Rich Wright was in a rock band with me in college called Two Doors Down,” said Allen.
The two toured with the band but split off into two directions after college. Now, Wright is a music educator and supporter of Allen. “I’m a huge fan; I think he’s one of the best songwriters in the world,” said Wright.
Allen is based out of Cleveland and is the former frontman of the alternative country group Rosavelt. The Ohio City Singers are also out of Cleveland and feature a variety of different musicians.
Last school year, the a cappella group Sonos visited Fairmont. Choir Director Brody McDonald brought in the professional singers. The vocal quintet has performed on NPR, NBC’s The Sing-Off, and at the SXSW ’11 and Sundance ’10 music festivals, along with many other venues around the nation, using a unique blend of vocal qualities and electronic effects. Their first studio album, on Verve Records, is titled SonoSings and consists of cover songs. In 2011, the group released December Songs, a holiday album that features classics as well as originals. Currently, they are working on an all-original album that will be released soon.
Sonos member Ben McLain recalls the group’s experience at Fairmont.
“We have performed at many high schools, and it is safe to say that none compares to Fairmont,” McLain said.
Another large group that has come to Fairmont is The Section Quartet. The quartet is a string group known for rocking out. They cover an eclectic mix of genres from Aerosmith to Kelly Clarkson to Dr. Dre. The group also wrote and played a score for Drew Barrymore’s Whip It and has played Coachella and SXSW.
Eric Gorfain, member of TSQ, reported that the quartet enjoyed their experience at Fairmont. “We have held similar educational outreach events and concerts at many high schools around the country, from New York’s Long Island to Chicago,” said Gorfain. “Mr. Wright has built an incredibly strong program at Fairmont, which has impressed us at every visit. The Fairmont orchestra program is one of the best I’ve ever encountered in theU.S.”
The Nashville-based a cappella group Street Corner Symphony also paid Fairmont a visit this school year. The sextet stunned Sing-Off judges with their performance on the show and has worked with the likes of Ben Folds, Alison Krauss and Claude McKnight.
“We’ve performed at several other high schools, and Fairmont is definitely one of our favorites,” said Street Corner Symphony singer Jeremy Lister.
Overall, groups that are brought to Fairmont say they love it. “We always feel like rock stars when we’re at Fairmont!” said Gorfain.
These acts have loved Fairmont’s atmosphere, and it is evident by their words. “Simply put, this lowly band is treated like we are the greatest pop stars on earth. It’s a pretty good feeling,” said McLain. “We love Fairmont. Fairmont forever. Seriously.”