Bringing together the Walnut Honor Choir
Seniors Adrienne Caparaz, Rajasri Rajkumar and Matthew Huang, juniors Eugene Lo and Jocelyn Chow and freshmen Pauline Crelencia and Mia Dimalanta all discovered their passion for singing in different ways. Yet, one thing has brought them together: All-State High School Honor Choir.
All-State Honor Choir is composed of about 300 high school singers who re-audition every year to be a part of the program. In order to be considered, students need to have been a part of the state’s regional honor choir as well. The All-State Concert, held on Feb. 18, gives the choir members an opportunity to showcase their abilities.
“In All-State, everyone has high standards to meet while in regional, a lot of people fool around. Also, the process is a lot more intensive in that they expect a lot more from us than they do in regional choir,” Lo said. “All-State has let me set high expectations for myself, and that’s helped me improve and become a better singer.”
In September and October, members participated in open auditions, where specialized directors assessed the students’ vocal capabilities. The audition scoring system is split up into different sections, such as tonal memory, sight reading, scales and the solo, totaling 100 points. The top scores are selected by the state and placed into the All-State Honor Choir program.
“Going into the audition, I was really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect out of it besides the list of criteria they would be checking me for,” Caparaz said. “To prepare, I went over the audition process with Mrs. Lopez, practic[ed] my art song and assorted technical aspects like sight reading. Because I had nerves, I tried to boost my confidence by doing this thing called power posing for a couple of minutes, and overall really helped me with my performance.”
To prepare for the All-State Concert, all members participate in a three-day rehearsal process from Feb. 16 to 18 in San Jose. During practice, the conductor focuses on strengthening the dynamics of the choir by adjusting small details like phrasing and breathing.
“I like how [singing] reflects your mood. You can express your emotions through singing and performing,” Rajkumar said. “This being my first year in [All-State Honor Choir], I’m excited to see what it’s like and to hopefully learn new things. It’s going to be a different experience, but I know it’s going to be fun.”
Although the members are expected to learn the selected music on their own, Caparaz, Rajkumar, Huang, Lo and Chow have helped each other through the process by learning music during tutorial and practicing together. The All-State Concert will include classical and spiritual songs, including “Be For Me the Earth” and “Nyon Nyon.”
“We might hang out sometimes outside [of school choir], but going to Honor Choir together allows us to form a closer bond, since we’re together for a lot of the time,” Chow said. “Although bonding isn’t necessary to [sing well], it definitely helps create a more close-knit group. That is reflected on our group when we help each other with parts and just sing together for fun because we’re able to support each other in the music.”
With hours of practice and preparation, all five of the All-State Honor Choir members from Walnut continue to pursue their passion for singing through Honor Choir.
“Honor Choir has impacted me tremendously. I’ve learned a lot more singing with people at high levels, [and] interacting with different singers from all over California has truly been a rewarding experience,” Huang said. “It is very heartwarming to see that so many people from different backgrounds can unite under one common passion: singing.”
Written by Sarah Aie, Staff writer
Photos courtesy of Lisa Lopez