It’s an Honor: Students to Sing in All-Star Choir

Ten San Marino High School students will lend their voices to a star-studded chorale this weekend in Redlands, having been selected to the Southern California Vocal Association Honor Choir. They’ll be part of an assemblage of 270 choristers who will perform Saturday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. in the University of Redlands’ Memorial Chapel.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” said Tammi Alderman, SMHS’s vocal music director. “For choir, this is the equivalent of making it to the CIF playoffs as individuals.”
The choir members are seniors Matthew Lee, Herbert Santoso and Christina Wong; juniors Richard Li, Allen Liu, Kyle McCall, Lincoln Nelson and Jeff Xu; and sophomores Michael DuMont and Jaren Huang.
They prevailed in a rigorous selection process. About 700 students from across Southern California tried out for the honor choir, which involved singing a solo of the student’s choice and sight-reading an unknown piece of music, which was written for the auditions. Alderman said that most of her students also play an instrument, so reading music comes readily to them.
But the hard work didn’t end with the selection. During a break from classes Monday morning, the students talked about a full day spent in Fullerton last weekend rehearsing for their concert. They’ll practice for another 14-15 hours over Friday and Saturday in Redlands before taking to the stage Saturday night.
The honor choir will actually be three ensembles of 90 members each: men, women and mixed. These numbers, and the talent of the singers, open up a wealth of possibilities vocally.
“They have a chance to do music I can’t really do,” Alderman said. “I don’t have a 90-voice men’s choir. The Chamber Choir here is only 32. So, while we can do difficult music, there are some things I just can’t do because we don’t have the sheer power.”
The students received scores on their auditions, and on the basis of those, they’ll compete with nearly 2,000 choral students in a statewide selection process, the result of which will be a 300-member all-state choir. It will perform in San Jose over Presidents’ Day weekend in February.
Alderman said these experiences can be invaluable for San Marino High’s choral students, even if they don’t plan to pursue music as a college major.
“It just teaches them to work better in life’s situations,” she said. “They can walk into a big group of people who they’ve never met before, who are all working toward a common goal, and come with a finished product at the end of a weekend. If we think how much of our daily job as a grownup is to do that, whatever your field is, this is sort of a microcosm of that life skill. That’s why I really like it. It teaches them how to go in and essentially sit through meetings where you have to be quiet — until it’s your turn!”

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