Meeting Mr. Fritz


Shannon Rosen, Staff Writer

On February 10 at 7 p.m., the Westwood Jr./Sr. High School band and choir program held their Pops Concert. At this concert, the new choir director, Joseph Fritz, was introduced.

The Eighth Grade Choir, Concert Choir and Chamber Singers were all conducted by the new choir director Fritz. Fritz took over the program in the beginning of January, after the former director left for a position at another school. He had no problem jumping right in and preparing for the Pops Concert, which was just over a month after he started.    

Before coming to Westwood High School, Fritz was a substitute teacher in Bergenfield School District, and then took over a maternity leave position at Demarest Middle School at the beginning of the academic school year.

Aside from teaching in schools, Fritz worked at a non-profit community children’s choir. He worked with students 7 to 18 years old, that were all from different choirs. Fritz also worked at The Container Store, during and after college, for 5 years.

Fritz applied for the job as Westwood’s new choir director because of a friend who told him about the program. “It seemed like it would be a great fit for me here. I like the choir program that Westwood has, with three choirs and the lesson program,” Fritz said.

Fritz knew from sixth grade that he wanted to be some type of music teacher. “My middle school choir teacher inspired me to want to become a music teacher pretty young. In high school, I actually wanted to be a band director. However, my senior year I decided I wanted to go to school for performance and education,” Fritz said.

At the Pops Concert, Fritz’s passion for music education from such a young age was displayed in his song choices. He arranged the piece “1989” a medley of songs by Taylor Swift for the Concert Choir. “It was really nice to see something that I spent so long creating come to life and be performed by these students. It is also pretty cool that technically this was world premiered at the Pops Concert!” Fritz said.

Fritz also arranged “Flashlight” by Jessie J, a piece performed by the Chamber Singers, with soloist Natalie Pira. At the beginning and end of this particular performance, the lights were completely turned off, and the chamber singers were flashing their flashlights on their phones. “Chamber Singers are a group of so many terrific singers. I thought that this concert would be a perfect way to showcase those voices–so most of the concert had solos in their repertoire. I loved flashlight because of the special effects, and the fact that we were able to showcase Natalie Pira,” Fritz said.

Aside from all the performances and seeing his work come to life, Fritz’s favorite part of the pops concert was the sense of accomplishment on all his students’ faces after each song. He also liked the standing ovation.  “I think that we have a solid group of talented students who care about their performances. I think that at this point, all we can do is go up and improve the quality of those performances and really showcase the talent that Westwood has to offer,” Fritz said.