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Choir students sing in San Luis Obispo, prepare for New York trip

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

FC choir prepares for the Cal Poly Coast Spring Choral Festival, March 22.

Fresno Christian elementary, junior high, and high school choirs will all attend the Cal Poly Central Coast Spring Choral Festival, March 22. Junior high and high school meet at 6:30 a.m. and plan to return by 8 p.m. the same day.

Students begin traveling before sunrise to Cal Poly for the concert that begins at noon. Choirs from all over the State attend and will showcase their vocal talents. According to the official website, the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center sees between 35-50 schools each year, most of which are high schools (58%). Elementary students perform first in the lineup, performing at 10 a.m.  

Campus choral director Susan Ainley shares her goal in taking the choir to the performance and the importance of festival season for vocalists. 

The San Luis Vocal Arts Ensemble presents a huge choral festival each spring,” Ainley said. “There will be 57 choirs from elementary through college presenting their songs over three days. I have been attending this festival since 2010, and it is definitely a valuable tool for teaching. Not only do we hear other choirs from around California, we are adjudicated by two college professors on 10 different areas of skill, such as tone, musicality, balance, interpretation, and difficulty.

“Each choir is given a letter grade and recorded comments from each judge,” Ainley continued. “My goal for each choir (elementary, junior high and high school) is that the music would be technically correct, but also have a quality that reaches each member of the audience. If the judge says, ‘I believe you’ while we sing, I consider that a success.”

After performing, choir members explore the Cayucos Pier for a day of sun and an opportunity to visit many of the outlets and restaurants along the way. A student favorite is Duckie’s Chowder House.  

Carlee Whipple, ‘18, who has attended the Cal Poly festival since elementary school, shares her thoughts.

“I love the Cal Poly trip. I love how we all travel there together and get to go to the beach after,” Whipple said. “One song I am looking forward is ‘In Remembrance’. It’s a beautiful piece. I feel as though the Cal Poly trip is more important for high schoolers because we understand more than the elementary students, but they get exposure to a lot of singing.”

After spring break, members will then prepare for their flight to New York City, April 9-16. There they will sing in a mass choir with other members who have been invited from across the country in Carnegie HallTheir mass choral director, Rollo Dilworth, previously was a clinician at the Fresno Pacific University Choral Festival that the choir attended in October 2017. There is a total of 77 students and parents going to New York, and many in the choir anticipate this once in a lifetime experience. 

First-year Cantiamo member Suky Cheema, ’19, shares his excitement about going to Cal Poly. 

“This is my first time going to Cal Poly,” Cheema said. “My expectations are very high. I’ve heard great things about this choir trip from my friends who have been in choir years past. I’ve also heard that the campus is very beautiful at Cal Poly so I’m just looking forward to the entire trip as a whole. I’m looking forward to mainly New York and then our end of the year concert. I think this year has been amazing and especially since it’s my first year in choir, I’ve really enjoyed all of the different experiences that have come my way through choir.”

For more articles, read Profile: Alumnus Robbie Hill finds success in theatre or Join the Discussion: Spring break 2018.

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