The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education landscape throughout the nation, but there remains a constant at La Cañada High School.
The school’s choir program, headed by Jeff Brookey, is one of the most lauded in the area, having won national competitions and traveled internationally to perform at iconic venues in Europe, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Another prestigious honor can be added to that list. The school’s Chamber Singers were recently selected to perform in a concert session at the American Choral Directors Association’s national conference, which was to have been held in Dallas but will now be a virtual event due to the coronavirus and will be held March 17-20, 2021.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Brookey, who is in his 13th year at LCHS, “the highest honor a choir can receive as the ACDA vets the choirs extensively and looks for quality and consistency. To get selected is awesome.
“A very limited number of high school choirs are chosen to perform, and even less of them are mixed groups of men and women.”
The audition process is intense, and LCHS’ group was selected after Brookey submitted Chamber Singers performances from the past three years along with a proposed program for the concert.
“It really feels like a testament to all of the hard work of past and current choir members,” said Maggie MacKenzie, co-president of Chamber Singers. “Although it will be virtual, I have confidence it will be an amazing learning experience.”
The local singers will have a 10-minute video compilation of performances shown to thousands of choral directors throughout the nation. The ACDA is a nonprofit music organization with more than 17,000 members that promotes excellence in choral music through performance, composition, publication, research, teaching and arts advocacy.
Brookey, however, isn’t resting on his laurels, continuing to work hard to extend the tradition of creating a special place for students to learn and grow. He has adapted to the times and worked with performers virtually, and he plans to focus on solo singing development, performance on small ensemble singing and musicianship. To assist with these plans, several voice teachers have been engaged by the program and additional one-on-one vocal teaching and coaching time will be incorporated into the schedule.
“First and most importantly, we will continue our commitment to the social and emotional health of all our students,” he said. “Choir is a place where they can be themselves and honest and open with their friends and this will not change. … This will be a school year that we want the kids to remember forever, not because of the pandemic, but because we will make great and unique memories together through our music and camaraderie.”