By RYAN PFEIL
The South Medford High School chamber choir will be living out their own version of "Rock of Ages" at the Jackson County Fair when they join classic rock band Foreigner on stage.
The concert, held at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point, will kick off at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, and will end with the band singing their famous single, "I Want To Know What Love Is," assisted by the choir's 25 high school students.
"They're so excited," said choir director Andrea Brock. "It's been really fun."
John Lappen, Foreigner's agent, first came up with the idea five years ago when tickets for a show in Cleveland were moving slowly. Lappen pitched to a concert promoter the idea of letting a high school choir join the band on stage, and the promoter agreed.
"He ended up selling out the show," Lappen said.
Two years later, Lappen dusted the idea off. Now the band hasn't stopped using it.
"It's just gotten bigger and better as the years' gone by," Lappen said. "As long as there's Foreigner, we'll probably use the choir for our shows."
It's a bit of a full-circle moment for Brock, who played keyboards in a rock band called Freeway in the '80s while living in Roseburg. They did a cover of "Urgent," another Foreigner hit.
"It's pretty great," Brock said. "I love '80s music, and a lot of my students love '80s music."
The students will have a rehearsal and pool party the night before to make sure they have their parts down pat before going on stage.
Brock, a choir teacher for the past 16 years, said the experience is a first for her and the choir. The students will go on stage wearing their choir T-shirts instead of robes.
"They wanted us to go more fun," Brock said. "They wanted us to be jumping around up on stage and dancing with them."
The students will also help sell CD's and raffle tickets before and after the show. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Grammy Foundation for musical education programs. In addition, the choir program will receive $500 from the band. Lappen said the program has been beneficial to several schools in recent years, as budget shortfalls have cut deeply into music programs in districts across the country.
It's also just good fun for the band to watch the students walk on stage and start singing, Lappen said.
"It's a rush," he said. "I've seen the whole gamut of emotions. I've seen kids just giggle incessantly, others who are just awestruck and they can't say a word."
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.