Story by Luyang Zhang
After a full semester of practice, the South Pasadena Middle and High school choirs showcased their vocal talent at a combined winter concert on December 12th in the South Pasadena Middle School auditorium. Throughout the program, the middle and high school groups performed songs of a wide range of genres, tempos, and pitches, from the middle school’s You’ll Be In My Heart (from the Disney movie Tarzan) to the high school ensemble’s Niska Banja, a Serbian folk song.
The concert also showcased many soloists, including seniors Amanda Estevez and Rachel Park, who respectively performed an original composition I’m Not Hungry Anymore and Samuel Barber’s Sure on this Shining Night.
The impressive night was closed by a performance by both the middle and high school choirs, highlighting their journey from a group of students without much experience to a practiced group of singers. The close relationship that the middle and high school choirs share has fostered a rapid growth in musical knowledge for the younger singers, which has contributed to the collective progression of both groups.
“Each year the ensembles get better and better. As the middle school program grows and excels, it feeds into the SPHS ensembles,” middle and high school choir director Lia Donovan-Jones said. “As students develop their ears and music reading skills, they learn songs faster and that allows us to spend more time on making our music more meaningful.”
Choir demands genuine dedication and passion to synchronize the various vocal pitches of students. Each class period, choir students work to develop their ensemble sound with physical and vocal warm-ups that focus on breath control, articulations, vowels, and range extension as well as ear training and sight reading exercises on top of their performance repertoire. Outside of school, the vocalists are expected to put in about two hours of practice on top of their regular schoolwork.
The choir plans on hosting and attending many other events throughout the school year, including the Southern California Vocal Association Solo/Small Ensemble Festival, and their Spring Concert. The groups are looking to gain valuable experience from these events to improve the overall skill of the ensemble, both when separate and in harmony.