District Vocal Programs Unite

Kelly Pien, News Editor

Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Bel Canto, and Women’s Ensemble participated in the annual Fall Choral Classics (FCC) on October 13 and 16.

The Acalanes Chamber Singers and Concert Choir and the Miramonte Chamber Singers were also present at Monday’s event, and Acalanes’ Bella Voce and Women’s Ensemble and Miramonte’s Bella Voce attended Thursday’s event.

The FCC is an annual event organized by the choral directors from Campolindo, Acalanes, and Miramonte and attended by choirs from the same three schools. Las Lomas did not attend. Campolindo choir director Mark Roberts said, “The choral program at Las Lomas is sort of in a different spot than Acalanes, Miramonte, and Campolindo. There’s just one choir over there and the makeup of it doesn’t particularly lend itself to either event specifically well.”

In organizing the event with the Acalanes and Miramonte choir directors, Roberts said there were “a few goals we had in mind. The first was bringing in a guest conductor to work with the students, that’s either a professional conductor or a collegiate director – someone who has a lot of experience or something we think is unique to offer the students. Another is to get our programs interacting so that they get to hear the choirs from the different schools.”

“With sports, it’s easy. You get to interact with other schools that way. For us it’s a day of concerts and rehearsals. It’s a good way to get to interact with one another,” he said. “And also just to get the kids into a musical space for a longer period of time, as opposed to in the midst of their seven-period day. Math, English, arts – boom, boom, boom – and you don’t really ever get to sink your teeth into one thing.”

Each day consisted of a rehearsal from approximately 8:30am. to 3:30pm and a concert at 7:30pm, according to senior Chamber and Concert choir member Julie Meng. Meng described the event as “essentially a full school day except we were just doing music.”

During the festivals, a guest conductor worked with the school choirs on their individual pieces and pieces involving all the choirs from all 3 schools. The guest conductor on Monday was Robert Istad, the professor of music and director of choral studies at the California State University at Fullerton. Thursday’s guest conductor was Ken Rawdon, the Mt. Eden High School and Martin Luther King Middle School vocal music teacher.

“We tried to alternate mass choir rehearsals with individual choirs singing for each other, so it kept the students from doing too much of one thing,” Roberts said.

At the concerts, each choir performed three pieces separately and all the choirs performed two pieces together.

“This year the guest conductor was not my favorite, but he definitely gave us stuff to work on,” said Meng. “He told us a lot of standard things, standard material, but he didn’t really give us new things to work on. It wasn’t very interesting or new, in my opinion. But there were a few people who liked him. I think the general consensus though was [that he was] not quite as charismatic as the other conductors I’ve worked with in the past.”

“I particularly enjoyed Thursday because the director that we had,” Roberts said. “I just think he’s a really nice guy, and worked well with the students. I mean, they both did, but the director for Thursday is currently a high school teacher so I think it was an easier switch for him.”

“I think the other choirs are good, however, I’m very proud of Campo choir, and I think we definitely have a very, very strong program in comparison to the other two schools,” Meng said. “I think it’s good for the other schools to learn from our program and for us to learn from what they do well.”