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CHS Chamber Singers go for gold at prestigious festival

The CHS Chamber Singers Choir recently participated in the Festival of Gold, held in Orange County from March 24 through March 28.

The festival, held each year in five locations across the United States, serves as clinic, showcase and competition for high school choirs and orchestras across the country. The competition is stiff because a school’s musical ensemble must have attained a certain level of excellence just to be invited to the prestigious event. To get into the Festival of Gold, a school must submit an audition tape and audio recording.

This most recent iteration marks the third time the CHS Chamber Singers have competed at the Festival of Gold. In the springs of 2015 and 2016, the festival brought the Claremont teens to Washington, DC and San Diego, respectively.

This year’s festival was closer to home but no less edifying. The student delegation first traveled to Cal State Fullerton where they met with Nikola Barton, who directs both the men’s and women’s chorales at the college.

The students next participated in a clinic featuring mentors like Craig Jessop, former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Among notable achievements, Mr. Jessop led the choir as they performed during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games held in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Under his tutelage—as well as the watchful eyes of CHS choral director Joel Wilson and accompanist Christine Rhodes—the CHS students joined with numerous choirs and orchestras in practicing patriotic songs.

Darlene Argyle’s son John is a sophomore in the Chamber Singers Choir, and so she agreed to serve as a chaperone during the event. She said Mr. Jessop was an inspiring presence.

“It was his love for music and his love for the choirs,” she said. “He’s this older gentleman and he’s retired, so he was sitting on a chair most of the time. But when our choir was on, he jumped up and started clapping and singing. He was just so happy about what they were doing.”

The musical ensembles spent all of Monday, March 27 competing with one another. Then on the final night of the program they presented a special show honoring veterans, held at the beautiful Segerstrom Center for the Arts. 

The performance was a true collaboration, with the CHS vocalists joining with choirs and orchestras from near and far in celebrating the red, white and blue. Ms. Argyle was hugely impressed by the display. “They did everything Dr. Wilson and Christine and the clinicians told them, and they did awesome,” she said. “They were also the only choir that danced to the music.”

The full results of the Festival of Gold, which will show how the CHS Chamber Singers ranked against other schools, are pending. They already know the singing Wolfpack made a good showing, however, receiving a gold ranking for the third year in a row. 

The average score judges awarded them was 93, while Mr. Jessop gave the Claremont delegation a score of 96.5 out of 100.

You can next catch the CHS choral program during their Spring Choral Concert, held May 22 to 23 at 7 p.m. at “Little” Bridges Hall of Music, 150 E. Fourth St. in Claremont.

The program, themed “Dawn to Dusk,” will feature traditional choral arrangements of songs about day and night and is a tribute to the outgoing seniors as well as teachers in the program. Admission is $8 and $3 for students.

For information, call (909) 624-9053, ext. 30462, email jwilson@cusd.claremont.edu or visit chschoir.org.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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