By Jack MacKenzie
Special to the Outlook
The decision to host high school choral music festivals culminated in a long but rewarding week of performances for the La Cañada High School choral program.
All six LCHS choirs received “Superior” ratings from a panel of adjudicators as La Cañada hosted a Southern California Vocal Association Festival at Lanterman Auditorium. The superior rating is the highest accolade a choir can get in festival judging.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the student performances,” choral director Jeff Brookey said. “It’s a good push for the students to get validation from people who don’t know them. It’s important to be heard and adjudicated.”
Inside the two-day event at Lanterman Auditorium, LCHS hosted three festivals featuring more than 15 choirs from across Southern California. La Cañada’s Men’s and Women’s Ensemble choirs performed in the Non-Auditioned Men’s and Women’s Festival Tuesday morning and set the stage by earning Superior ratings, singing material learned over the past eight weeks.
Next up was the Advanced-Auditioned Mixed Festival, featuring La Cañada’s Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, both of which were honored with the Superior classification.
The Concert Choir, which has more than 75 singers ranging from freshmen to seniors, sang music from the Renaissance through the 21st century, including “Exultate Deo” from composer Giovanni P. da Palestrina and “Earth Song” by American composer Frank Ticheli.
“It was a remarkable experience,” Concert Choir singer Michael Herrick III said. “It was great to hear some competitive choirs. The new grading system was very stressful, but it worked out in the end.”
The Chamber Singers performed a set that included “Only in Sleep” by Eriks Esenvalds, featuring a stirring solo performance by senior Sarah Lee. Chamber Singers also performed “Marie” from composer Francis Poulenc and Shawn Kirchner’s arrangement of “Hallelujah.”
The Junior High Festival closed the competition Wednesday morning, and La Cañada’s singers were up to the challenge. Both the 7/8 Vocal Ensemble and 7/8 Women’s Ensemble earned Superior ratings as well.
The festivals came on the heels of the annual Spring Festival Concert last Friday to a packed house at the United Methodist Church in Pasadena.
While it made for a busy week, Brookey said it worked out: “We have six choirs on one campus. It’s really hard to find festivals that can take all of us. Scheduling is difficult so we hosted our own.”
The Choral Music Program now turns its attention to the annual tour season. The Chamber Singers are headed to New Orleans during spring break and Concert Choir visits Seattle for a five-day tour in early April.