On Saturday night, a group of Penn State Concert Choir members proved you CAN get what you want—and what millions of other rock music fans want, too—when they sang with the iconic Rolling Stones during the band’s Zip Code tour stop in Pittsburgh. The Penn State students sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”—a performance video-recorded and posted to Instagram by the one and only Mick Jagger—near the end of the concert, the Stones’ first show in Pittsburgh in a decade.
“It was a terrific day, and an experience that all involved will never forget,” said Chris Kiver, director of the Concert Choir. “The students were professional, flexible, courteous and, yet again, great ambassadors for Penn State.”
The Rolling Stones frequently seek out local choirs to join them on stage for a song. Kiver said he jumped at the opportunity for the Concert Choir to sing with the Rolling Stones, even though the ensemble primarily performs classical music. “The students are versatile enough to be able to sing a variety of styles. For this particular piece, the choral writing seems to resemble that of an English cathedral choir, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch for us.”
The invitation to participate in the concert came during the spring semester, so the choir worked on the song during regular rehearsals. On the day of the concert, they rehearsed alone with the tour’s musical director, and then in a sound check on stage with the Rolling Stones.
Although the Rolling Stones came on the scene 30 years before the Concert Choir members were even born, Kiver said they still understood this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Participants commented that singing with the Stones was an indescribable experience, especially the moment when the lights came up and the crowd erupted, noted Kiver.
Former Concert Choir member and School of Music alumna Alison Geesey (’14 B.M.E., M.A. Music) was assistant director for the choir’s performance. “When Dr. Kiver asked me to be a part of this, I was thrilled. … I’m forever grateful I got to co-conduct the group.”
The Rolling Stones’ Zip Code tour coincides with the reissue of their 1971 album “Sticky Fingers.” For the Pittsburgh tour stop, band members Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood were dressed in the city’s sports colors of black and gold. For more on the tour, visit rollingstones.com.