Honors Choir attends prestigious Master Chorale Festival in L.A.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Balfour

By Tomas Palmieri

On April 29, the Honors Choir attended the annual Los Angeles Master Chorale High School Festival in which they celebrated their year of hard work and tenacity.

The LA Master Chorale High School Festival is an event held every year at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. However, due to Covid, the event was moved outdoors to Grand Park, a short walk away from the concert hall. 

The purpose of the event was not to engage in yet another competition but to allow student singers across Los Angeles to celebrate the art of choral singing. So despite the school’s Honors Choir meeting the requirements to enter the event as well as receiving top ratings throughout the school year, they attended in a non-competitive way. They focused instead on bringing  choral musicians from all over Southern California together to celebrate their successes and appreciation for choir as an art.

Despite the non-competitive nature of the event, the requirements to get in are nothing to scoff at. They were required to learn nine different pieces of music as well as attend a “Mega Rehearsal” on April 3 held at East LA Performing Arts High School. Typically an ensemble, or a team of choir singers, learns and rehearses three to five pieces of music within a semester. Learning nine different pieces definitely required extra preparation and practice in order for the Honors Choir to succeed.

While attending the festival, students were also able to rehearse with the conductor of the LA Master Chorale, Grant Gershon, and composers Christian Grases and Reena Esmail.

This gave choir students an insightful and authentic view of the specific cultural aspects of these composers’ music.  For instance, the group attended a Tabla, otherwise known as “talking drum,” presentation in which the students learned to produce authentic sounds and rhythms from Indian Classical music. 

Finally, during the event’s concert section students and the community were able to watch a performance by the LA Master Chorale’s Chamber Singers directed by Jenny Wong. This performance was then followed by the students’ performance of seven different pieces from different cultures all over the world, along with a team of professional percussionists and pianists.

“Honestly, ever since I heard that we were performing with such a big group, it was pretty exciting. When we did our first practice with only a fraction of the schools going to this festival, which was still a lot of students, especially in comparison to our current program, I was eager to perform. So to perform with the amount of people we did was truly the experience of a lifetime,” junior Nathan Gatdula said.

The LA Master Chorale High School festival provided the Honors Choir with extra special experiences that allowed them to connect with top professionals in the art of choir.

The choir programs are a tightly knit group of resolute, diligent, and friendly students who are not afraid to put in the extra effort to meet difficult goals and projects they wish to succeed.

“Especially true for this particular ensemble, but throughout all four choir classes, I am most proud of the kindness, support, inclusivity, leadership, and dedication to the team that is truly infectious. Each day the class is ready to work, learn, grow, and genuinely encourage one another and it brightens my world on the daily,” choir teacher Dr. Desiree Balfour said.