This column has been corrected. See note below.
I have been attending Costa Mesa Middle and High school choir concerts led by Jon Lindfors for about four years. Every time I see holiday or the end-of-the-year shows I think about how amazing he must be and how somebody should write a story about him.
While watching the most recent show, "Songs of Stage and Screen," I decided I had to be that somebody. The Lyceum at the high school was filled for both shows June 13 and after the first show, audience members poured out glowing with praise — "beautiful," "amazing," "wonderful," they said.
I couldn't wait to see for myself.
Understand, Mr. Lindfors, who has taught at these schools for 27 years, has a small group of kids to work with and not everyone is a virtuoso. The school isn't necessarily known for its performing arts — despite his work and the work of drama instructor Kathy Paladino, who also brings out the best of her students and turns their shows into award-winning productions.
There are three choirs: concert, vocal ensemble and madrigal. Some of the kids are amazing and he knows how to showcase them. Some are better performers than vocalists, and he knows how to showcase them, too. Then there are the kids who just want it, or are just doing it, and they work out pretty well too.
That brings me to my son. He was in the choir mostly made up of eighth-graders. My son is not a passionate singer, nor a performer and likely isn't going into a career on the stage. But as I watched him during the holiday show in December I actually cried.
He was up there with four other boys. Up on the Robert B. Moore Theatre stage at Orange Coast College singing. Just the five of them. I could hear him. He was serious. He was great. Mr. Lindfors did that.
The madrigal choir opened the June 13 event with a piece from "Les Miserables" — it was excellent — but the moment that made me sure I wouldn't let another year go by without Mr. Lindfors getting his story, happened during the second to last song, the uber-moving rendition of Green Day's "21 Guns."
I had watched many performances in which Kendall Bradley, who is visually impaired, was led out on stage by her colleagues and guided through the choreography — she would sway back and forth with her friends holding her hand or waist while she sang away.
On this night, for this song, she was guided across the stage as usual, but then they stopped. They stopped center stage and faced her toward the crowd. Then she sang. "Do you know what's worth fighting for…" Her voice, that I had never been able to makeout before, was strong and beautiful.
It was perfect.
Then slowly one or two cast members came forward, adding vocal layers until all three choirs were on stage, all singing their hearts out as the song increased in intensity and volume.
It was ridiculously emotional.
When that soulful performance ended, they broke out into Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" — the kids clapping and dancing. In the end, the two finales brought the audience to its feet. Sometimes that happens at high school performances, a few parents stand up. This time many did — my husband was one of the first — and then everyone did. Even me, and I don't give my ovations easily.
Wow, Mr. Lindfors.
[For the record, 10 a.m. July 1: An earlier version of this column insinuated that Jon Lindfors graduated from Costa Mesa High School. Lindfors actually graduated from Tustin High School.]
ALICIA LOPEZ is the City Editor for the Daily Pilot, Huntington Beach Independent and Coastline Pilot. She can be reached at (714) 966-4696 or email@example.com.