San Francisco Choir festival awards Cougars gold ranking

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By Angeli LaGuardia

Sing it Loud/ Madrigals smiles in relief after finishing their Festival set. The judges revealed their scores a day later. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Galvin

Concert and Madrigal Choir students toured San Francisco Thursday, April 11 through Sunday, April 14 for their yearly spring trip. For World Stride Festival this year, students not only had the opportunity to showcase their music but sightsee the Bay Area and celebrate their hard work all while bonding at California’s Great America amusement park. Choirs from around the U.S take advantage of performing at festival, where professional choral directors share their insights and critiques of ensembles’ seasonal pieces.

“Festival judges give us singers a different perspective and a broader outlook on the music we sing,” senior Zoe Conrad said. “They show us different techniques that teach us how to translate the music off the paper in an unexpected point of view.”

Festival allows choral students all over the U.S. to travel and showcase their choice of music to the choral community. Annually, Madrigals and Concert Choir students perform their festival set to their spring trip destination, where they are judged on their deliverance, interpretation and execution of their musical literature. As choirs perform, judges score every ensemble on a scale from 0-100,100 being the best score possible.

“Being judged at festival can be overwhelming, but it is nevertheless rewarding to know what we excelled at within our performances and what we can work on,” senior Sierra Miles said. “There is always room for improvement.”

Madrigals performed a piece Erik Esenvalds wrote to mimic the universe titled “Stars,” a Renaissance piece called “All Creatures Now,” and lastly a choreographed Indian piece entitled “Balleilakka.” The judges scored Madrigals’ set a 89, which had exceeded other choir scores, earning them first place with a gold ranking. Concert Choir performed a piece by Handel: “Music Spread Thy Voice Around”, with student accompaniment, a Russian piece known as “Psalm 21,” and an Alice in Wonderland-inspired piece “Jabberwocky,” also with student accompaniment. The judges scored Concert Choir with 88, earning them second place and a silver ranking. Both choirs won The Sweepstakes award, in which the choir with the highest average of scores is invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York next year.

“As my first year in high school choir, it is amazing to experience festival with such a talented group of people,” freshman Liam Deems said. “It has been a huge payoff to be awarded with such high ranking after all our hard work; it only inspires us as a choir to work harder.”

The judges commended individual choir students for their personal performance work at festival. Not only did students receive awards from the judges themselves but from their directors as well. Choir director Mr. Fleischer chose students senior Christian Romo and sophomore Natalie Mason to receive awards. Romo showed immense leadership and camaraderie within his peers, earning him the “Choir Spirit” award. Mason executed advanced piano techniques, in which the accompaniment was the foundation of “Jabberwocky” and “Music Spread Thy Voice Around”, earning her the “Most Valuable Student” award. Sophomore RJ Sutton and junior Brock Sorensen received “Best Tenor Solo” awards from the judges, as they displayed quality examples of well-executed solos during “Balleilakka.”

“Accompanying is actually a lot different than being in the choir,” sophomore Natalie Mason said. “It’s really nerve-racking to be up there with a lot of eyes on you, and the choir is depending on you for a great performance. Getting the award was honestly an amazing experience, and I’m so proud of all my friends who also received an award.”

With four days of touring and singing, choir students savoured all the memories they made, whether it was the seniors performing at their last festival, or the choir students screaming maniacally on rollercoasters.

“This trip was more than just about the gold ranking itself,” senior Reilly Collura said. “It was more rewarding being able to bond and make new connections with my choir family, all the while making beautiful music with them.”

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Angeli LaGuardia is a senior, and one of the newest additions to the news team. She’s interested in trend pieces but looks forward to stepping out of her comfort zone and writing a variety of other articles. Although she is an avid lover of writing and journalism, Angeli is mostly known for her passion for singing and being involved in Madrigals and Concert Choir. Outside of school, Angeli loves to spend her time at church and play volleyball with friends. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue journalism or music.