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CHS singers on track to reach travel goal to Australia

The Claremont High School Chamber Singers have become accustomed to achieving. They won national championships at the Festival of Gold (the Super Bowl of choir competitions in the US) in 2014 and 2016, and the program has established itself as a force on the national competitive choir stage since Choir Director Joel Wilson took over 14 years ago.

And now, the high-performing group has been asked to represent the US at the Australian International Music Festival at the Sydney Opera House next June 29 through July 9.

“We’re just real proud of the kids,” Mr. Wilson said. “We’re not just representing our school or our community. We’ve actually been selected to represent the US.”

The chamber singers will compete against choirs from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and Eastern European countries, among others.

It’s an honor to be sure, but it’s expensive; it will cost $206,000 to send Mr. Wilson, 41 student singers and accompanist Christine Rhodes to the other side of the world for two weeks. A group of six chaperones will pay their own way to Sydney.

They’ve raised $118,000 so far, with $100,000 of that coming from one generous anonymous donor.

As one might imagine, the singers have several fundraising events coming up, and the group is working hard to accumulate the balance, about $88,000, due in April.

“Hopefully we’ll stay on track,” Mr. Wilson said. “The kids have individual goals of $200 each per month. If we keep at our current pace we should make it. And of course, anything the community could do would sure be helpful.”

In addition to direct donations, businesses can purchase ads in the chamber singers’ programs and, Mr. Wilson said, corporate sponsorships of the Australia trip are also welcome.

The group has actually been invited to the Australian competition twice before, but raising the funds was just too daunting. “This year that private donor just gave us enough of a boost to make it feasible,” Mr. Wilson said.

Right now the singers are in the middle of an email campaign, where the students reach out to family and friends for sponsorship. A See’s Candies sale is underway as well.

Next up is CHS Chamber Singers’ winter concert at 7 p.m. on December 11 and 12 at Scripps College’s Garrison Theater, which will also help raise funds for the trip. Tickets are $8 and are available at chschoir.org and at the CHS box office at 1601 N. Indian Hill Blvd. Garrison is located at 231 E. Tenth St., Claremont.

The Sing-a-Thon, where audience members make pledges and donations as performers sing, dance and act, takes place February 9 from 3:30 p.m. to midnight in the Choir Room on the CHS campus. Admission is $1.

After that, the group will perform a concert musical with music from Les Misérables, February 23 and 24 at Bridges Auditorium, 450 N. College Way, Claremont. Tickets for this show are $8 and are also available at chschoir.org and at the CHS box office.

It’s a big undertaking, Mr. Wilson admitted, but one that’s worth doing. “We’re going to make it happen,” he said. “I’ve got a great team in place, and we’re all very excited.”

For information about program advertising, direct donations, or corporate sponsorship, call (909) 624-9053, extension 30462 or email jwilson@cusd.claremont.edu.

Online donations can be made at chschoir.org. Donors can mail checks, made out to CHS Choir, to CHS, c/o Joel Wilson, 1601 N. Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont CA 91711.

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

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