Boldly hitting notes

Performance brings English teacher Chris Archbold sense of peace

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Boldly hitting notes

The choir section of the Dallas Symphony Chorus takes a group photo.

The choir section of the Dallas Symphony Chorus takes a group photo.

Chris Archbold

The choir section of the Dallas Symphony Chorus takes a group photo.

Chris Archbold

Chris Archbold

The choir section of the Dallas Symphony Chorus takes a group photo.

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She walks onto the stage along with her peers, the entire auditorium is held in dead silence with the seemingly never-ending shuffle filling the space. They put themselves into position, together forming a muffled wall, fabricating tension in the quiet room. Suddenly, the stillness is broken as the orchestra begins the piece. It is a slow yet hypnotizing melody; as her notes stray closer, she can feel herself relax. Entering the zone, she opens her mouth and sings.

When she’s not teaching AP English classes or spending time with her family, English teacher Chris Archbold sings with the Dallas Symphony Chorus. She performs there as a soprano section member of the chorus. Previously, she had only minor experience with choir, as her high school musical career was spent in the marching band as a flute player. Archbold was given the opportunity to perform by a close family member.

“At first I [was] hesitant because I didn’t think I was good enough,” Archbold said. “My sister was the one who got me started and gave me the audition information. I was like ‘I can’t do that’ but I did it anyway because I took a leap of faith and tried. I have loved doing it ever since.”

AP English teacher Chris Archbold poses in front of the Christmas tree at a Dallas Symphony Chorus concert. Courtesy of Chris Archbold.

The process for signing up for the chorus was not strenuous. What was rigorous was her practice for the audition, which she had only 10 days to prepare for. She went to choir teacher Steven Decrow to prepare and provide her with a solo, which was “Silent Noon” by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

I called Mr. Decrow and [said] ‘Hey Mr. Decrow, I got myself into this and I don’t have any music,’ and he helped me find a solo,” Archbold said. “[We] found the solo and worked with another music person I know who [also] helped me prepare my solo. I refreshed my memory on theory stuff so I didn’t make a fool of myself, but it was only a 10-day process.”

Being part of a music organization like the symphony chorus was new to Archbold. Responsibility had been placed on her to practice and to perfect her voice, but with her history of music and her family’s musical nature, it was soon an adversity she conquered.

“I have always been in [music] but nothing this big or official, but my family was always very musical,” Archbold said. “My mother was an organist and we all sing. We actually all sing together on Christmas and things like that so it was a natural interest of mine.”

It’s not just her family who has supported her undertaking with the chorus. English teacher Amber Counts and sculpting teacher Nicolle Franczvai have both been to performances. Franczvai sees Archbold as someone she can confide in.

I like that she’s Banksy and nobody knows but me,” Franczvai said. “I like her spirit and I like that she’s someone I can always talk [to] and she’s always uplifting without being fake. If I’m having a bad day she will listen and she won’t shove a candy cane in my hand and tell me to smile, she will actually listen and allow me to vent. That’s [an] authentic way to be a standup human being.”

Archbold’s performances have been awe-inspiring to Counts. According to Counts, Archbold’s good-hearted nature was only improved by the responsibility that came with being a member of the chorus.

My sister was the one who got me started and gave me the audition information. I was like ‘I can’t do that’ but I did it anyway because I took a leap of faith and tried. I have loved doing it ever since.”

— AP English teacher Chris Archbold

“Music and performance seems to bring Archbold a sense of peace as her love for music is evident,” Counts said. “She is always excited when they learn new music and when they get to the point where they’re performance-ready.”

The chorus has allowed Archbold to express herself through singing over her own personal loss and elevate herself through music. The practice and rigorous vocal training to nail every note becomes an art to her. For Archbold, it’s not just music: it’s part of who she is.

“My sister gave me the audition information and she said ‘You can do this,’” Archbold said. “It was a year after our other sister had passed away and I was looking for something to lift me up and keep me going. This was a good outlet.”