For 23 years, the Los Angeles Master Chorale has helped fuel a passion for choral music among Southland teenagers with its annual High School Choir Festival, a yearlong music education and mentoring program that reaches nearly 1,000 students and their choir teachers in 25 local high schools, culminating with a free concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall where the public can hear the next generation of singers. This year's event, the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Master Chorale High School Choir Festival, features participating students in a massed 1,000-voice choir tonight, May 4, 2012, at 1 pm, at Disney Hall. There will also be a special performance by the 80-voice Festival honor Choir, comprised of students from the 25 participating schools. Grant Gershon, music director of the LA Master Chorale, conducts both choirs, which have been rehearsing for the concert since last fall.
The massed choir performs Va, Pensiero by Giuseppi Verdi; I Will Be Earth by Gwyneth Walker; Ride the Chariot, a spiritual arranged by André Thomas; Choose Something Like A Star by Randall Thompson; Yo le Canto Todo el Dia by David L. Brunner; and The Heavens Are Telling by Joseph Haydn.
The 80-voice Festival Honor Choir joins forces with the LAMC's professional Chamber Singers to sing Come away, sweet love by Thomas Greaves; Tu Voz by Chorale member Shawn Kirchner; and Ching-a-ring-Chaw arranged by Aaron Copeland. Students participating in the Honor Choir were nominated for the prestigious group by their choir directors. To prepare for the performance, they attended separate rehearsals with Mr. Gershon.
Participating choirs include Agoura High School Mixed Choir (Agoura), John Mosley, director; Arroyo High School Chamber Singers (El Monte), Jennifer Stanley, director; Bellflower High School Vocal Ensemble (Bellflower), Carolyn Kelley, director; Birmingham Community Charter High School Chamber Singers (Van Nuys), Michael Suffolk, director; California High School Chamber Singers (Whittier), Dan Hawkins, director; Covina High School Chamber Singers, Dan Hawkins, director (Whittier); Covina High School Voices (Covina), Susan Silver, director; Culver City High School Chamber Singers (Culver City), Dr. Tony Spano, director; El Monte High School A Cappella Choir (El Monte), Joel Whisler, director. Glendale High School Chamber Choir (Glendale) Grace Sheldon-Williams, director; Grant High School Vocal Ensemble (Valley Glen), Marsha Lynne Taylor, director; Maranatha High School Mixed Ensemble ( Pasadena), Aaron Kolberg, director; Mark Keppel High School Aztec Singers (Alhambra) Tony Azeltine, director; Mountain View High School (El Monte), Nancy Ludwig, director.
Also featured are Norwalk High School Singers (Norwalk), Nancy Lanpher, director; Palos Verdes Peninsula High School Varsity Singers (Rolling Hills Estates), Dan Doctor, director; Ramon C. Cortines High School for the Arts Music Academy Choir (Los Angeles), Christopher Rodriguez and Desiree Fowler, directors; Rancho Cucamonga High School Chamber Singers (Rancho Cucamonga), Kelley Squires, director.Renaissance High School for the Arts Chamber Singers (Long Beach), Drew Holt, director; Rosemead High School A Cappella Choir (Rosemead), Ruth Gray, director; San Gabriel High School Matador Choir (San Gabriel), Cecilia Revilla, director; Sierra Vista High School Harmony Choir (Baldwin Park), Suzanne Brookey, director; South High School Southland Singers (Torrance), Elizabeth Turner, director; West Torrance High School Aristocracy (Torrance), Kathleen Jensen, director; William Howard Taft High School Vocal Ensemble (Woodland Hills), Tom Pease, director; Wilson Classical High School Chamber Singers (Long Beach), Curtis Heard, director.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale High School Choir Festival is one of the largest high school choir gatherings in the nation. The yearlong in-school program presented by the Chorale has five components. Several months prior to the festival, all participating Choral Directors meet with Mr. Gershon to review the repertoire he has selected. Directors then work in the classroom with their choirs on the music. During the spring, members from the LA Master Chorale Chamber Singers, the Chorale's outreach ensemble, visit participating choirs and conduct masterclasses for the students and directors. A month before the festival, each school attends one of two area rehearsals conducted by Mr. Gershon, who works with the singers on their musicianship, musical interpretation and tone balance. The joint rehearsals also provide an opportunity for the students to sing as part of a much larger choir in preparation for the festival, which is the final component of the outreach program. On the day of the festival, all of the schools join together for the first time and Mr. Gershon conducts a final dress rehearsal and concert.