Living life on a high note

Choir director’s positive nature helps students see the brighter side of life.

Haylie Stum , Reporter

Fulfilling the duties of a choir director is hard. Having to balance a choral ensemble in a way where everyone is figuratively and literally heard is no small task. To do so, the director has to be fluent in the abstract language of what is music. However, Mr. Fiorini, the head choir director, doesn’t just use music to communicate. He also utilizes his native tongue of optimism in order to fulfill his other responsibility- bringing light into what seems like an age of darkness.

From a young age, Christopher Fiorini always had a love for music. 

 “I have vague recollections of being a kid at my grandmother’s house in Clarksville, Texas and I would listen to recordings on tapes when we used to have cassette tapes,” Fiorini said. “I would listen to various classical recordings, and I remember listening and running up to her and saying ‘You’ve got to hear this. This is so cool,’ and she’d just look at me like, ‘Okay kid, what are you talking about’. I just thought it was great.”

Fiorini took his first step into the choral world in middle school. 

“Our preacher at church, their son was a boy that I just looked up to greatly. I just thought he was the bee’s knees, and he was in choir. I thought if he’s in choir, I want to be in choir, so I signed up,” Fiorini said. “It then got back to me that the music teacher said ‘I don’t know why Chris Fiorini signed up to be in choir, he can’t sing to save his life. He can’t carry a tune’. So long story short, here I am in spite of that, thirty-something years later still plugging away at this whole thing.”

It wasn’t until high school until Fiorini decided that he wanted music to guide his career path. Throughout middle and high school, he was locked in on pursuing a law degree and becoming an attorney. But when a family friend gave him a ticket to the Houston Grand Opera, he shifted his sights to a new occupation.

“I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. The costumes, the stage, the singing, the whole nine yards. I had never heard or seen anything like it. It really sparked an interest, and I started to move away from the law and started to lean towards thinking music is what I needed to do. Low and behold, I went off to music school.”

Mr. Fiorini graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor of music degree in voice, and took his talents to Langham Creek where he was the assistant choir director for three years until he was promoted to the Lobos’ head choir director. It was in 2019 where he ditched the red and black for the blue and orange to become the head choir director at Bridgeland. 

Along with taking on the very young and underdeveloped choir program at Bridgeland, Mr. Fiorini also felt obligated to help build the undefined culture as well. Through publicly displaying spirit and pride, he hopes to define the blurred lines of what ‘bear pride’ is truly about. 

“The culture at Bridgeland is young. It’s not developed yet. My wife used to teach at Cy-Fair High School, and pep rallies there were just explosive. Everyone participated in everything, and just the culture at the school was impeccable, ” he said. “Part of that is not only is this student going to Cy-Fair High School, their parents went, and their parents went. It’s been around for seventy-five years. So, there is a history and culture that is developed in that community as to ‘We are proud to be Bobcats. BFND.’ That’s not ingrained in Bridgeland yet,” Fiorini said. 

“Bridgeland is new. Last year, there was still this big wave of ‘I got Bridged’… There was this feeling of ‘I got shafted’. We’ve got to change the culture of that at the school,” he said. “The administration works diligently to change that culture, but we in organizations in choir, band, orchestra, football, we’ve got to develop our own identity. We can’t sit there and look at what’s going on in the school and be complacent about that.”

 Fiorini tries to contribute to the early stages of the Bridgeland spirit by uplifting students in the hallway. Whether it’s blasting upbeat music throughout the hall, dressing up dramatically for spirit days, or simply smiling at everyone who passes, Mr. Fiorini works diligently to display optimism.

“We work hard in choir, and during a class period, it’s not always fun… so we always need to make sure that we have those relax-out moments that we will remember like, ‘Hey, let’s play some music and have fun a little bit’. So, why can’t we share that with our friends in the hallway?” Fiorini said. 

 “The number of kids that haven’t been smiled at in a day because their math teachers are overwhelmed and their parents are mad at them because their kid has a B but they want them to have an A is so overwhelming,” he said. “So, there’s all these moments that can go on in a kid’s day that are just downer, downer, downer. And if there is one moment where somebody smiles at them or fist-bumps them or waves at them in the hallway that can put a smile on their face, you’re doing better for the world, better for the school culture, better for the choir program… Just be positive, and you’ll reap the benefits of that.”

Mr. Fiorini thinks this optimism is vital to take some burden out of the backpacks of students. And by doing so, he hopes that the modern-day teen will be able to shoulder something other than the weight of the 7 a.m.- 3 p.m. workload.

“I think kids are so geared up to be the top of their class, and if they’re not, then they’re a failure in life and there’s something wrong with them. I just think they need to relax a little bit. Kids need to take some time. They need to do something that they enjoy and not get so wrapped up in being better than somebody else,” Fiorini said. “ I think part of that is the music in the hallway because I know this school is a lot more stressed out than other places that I’ve worked with. So, I want to do my small little part to help kids even have a moment to breathe and realize that it’s okay to be a highschool kid.”

It’s not easy making joy a priority every single day, but Mr. Fiorini tries to make sure that joy is applied in his work no matter his emotional state. 

“I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I am not motivated and happy one hundred percent of the time. I have my days too,” Fiorini said. “But when you’re a teacher, there’s that moment of showtime. My kid may have peed on me this morning, my cat may have ran away… any number of things. But when you step into the boundary of the classroom and into the rehearsal, there’s a sense of that waits. My job and what I have to do right now is to be my very best for my kids, because my expectation is that they’re at their very best. I can’t hold them to that standard if I’m not going to hold myself to the same standard. That’s part of my motivation: I love what I do and professionalism.”

Mr. Fiorini believes that his cheerful tactics have paid dividends to how the young Bridgeland choir is developing. In a world deeply rooted in pessimism, he tries to sow the soil of an uplifting learning environment in order to nourish the growth of his blooming program.

“I feel like our kids consistently have been working harder. I think they feel like they’re in a program that’s going to respect them… that gives them a place where they can perform and have fun. I think that positivity has caused them to work harder and more mindfully. When they do that, they’re more successful. It just kind of builds upon itself,” Fiorini said.

“One that propels forward the idea of self-sufficiency”- a motto the head choir director continues to instill in himself and the people around him. More than ever, finding the light at the end of the 21st century tunnel is something that Fiorini continues to make a priority. 

“There’s always hope. There’s always a silver lining. There’s always a moment of good that will come from what we see as bad. Always,” Fiorini said. “Bad is real. Disappointment is real. But, there’s this intrinsic optimism that I feel like if we are positive, if we are kind, if we are helpful to one another, our world and what we do is going to be better. You can preach that all day long, but until you live it and act upon it, you’re just floating in the wind.”