WETHERSFIELD - As the June 4 America’s Got Talent clip shows Connecticut’s own 3Penny Chorus and Orchestra filing onto the stage and the New York audition hot seat, while chatting it up with Nick Canon, shock jock radio host and celebrity judge Howard Stern is heard saying how he “doesn’t like orchestral music.”
“I’m going to hit my X now and get it over with,” Stern tells his fellow judges.
Not a good sign, but first impressions can be deceiving, as game show host and comedian Howie Mandell noted after 3Penny’s jawdropping rendition of--get ready for this one--the pop song, “Call Me Maybe.”
“When the orchestra comes out, I think you visualize what you’re about to see and hear,” Mandell says. “And I think the brilliance was the song choice, and how you arranged that choice. And I think it’s an amazing performance.”
Evidently, the audience agreed with him. Chants of “play it again” could be heard ringing throughout the crowd after the song. 3Penny will play it again--in the Las Vegas audition segment of the America’s Got Talent competition. A unanimous vote from the judges sent the group of musicians to the big stage, where the selection process will continued Wednesday and Thursday, July 16-17, after press time.
Even Stern had nice things to say about the performance.
“This is a wonderfully uplifting act,” Stern said. “We all had a great time.”
But who are the 3Penny Chorus and Orchestra?
“Dentists, designers, priests-to-be, retired teachers--everything,” Yale graduate and conductor Arianne Abela told the judges when the group first took the stage. “We’re all volunteers.”
They may not be for long--if 3Penny stays in the competition and wins it, members will be recipients of a $1 million prize and have an extended presence as a Vegas act.
“You guys took that to the moon and back,” said judge Mel Brown--or “Mel B”--to the group.
A slight exaggeration, but Vegas is still pretty far away-far away from places like Wethersfield, where 3Penny trombone player Jakob Voychick teaches music.
And, if all goes well, the part about coming back might be prolonged for a little longer.