Young Glendale singing group makes its presence felt

There’s a new show choir in town, and unlike the majority of groups across the state, and even the country, this 45-member choir is made up of children as young as 9 years old.

In May, the Mark Keppel Elementary show choir — who attend Glendale Unified’s visual and performing arts magnet school — is set to become one of the youngest, if not the youngest, to be evaluated by a panel of judges when they perform at a music festival in Anaheim.

PHOTOS: Mark Keppel Elementary show choir rehearsal

Their teacher, Jennifer Epstein, said she has overwhelming faith in her charges’ potential. At the end of last year, many of her current students sang and danced for 45 straight minutes for an end-of-school production. It was then Epstein saw all that they were capable of, and promptly launched a show choir.

“If they can do this,” she recalled thinking, “they can compete with other show choirs.”

Since establishing the group, “I haven’t been able to find a single other elementary school [with a show choir,]” Epstein said.

Regardless, she’s looking forward to the May performance.

“My kids are so talented,” she said. “They’re so excited to be able to sing and dance at the same time.”

The group is still about $1,600 shy of meeting the $6,500 goal for the Anaheim festival, with plans to spend the rest of the day at Disneyland.

For 11-year-old Ninel Azizian, who has been singing in a chorus since she was in the third grade, the opportunity to participate in a show choir is a huge thrill.

On Tuesday, Azizian and other students sang Katy Perry’s “Roar” among other songs, as part of a weekly practice session set to increase as the festival draws closer. Perry, Rihanna and Lorde stand among her favorite singers.

“To be in a show choir, I’m honored,” she said Tuesday afternoon during a rehearsal. “I like singing because it makes me feel free…like I’m in a whole new world.”

The same excitement is felt by 9-year-old Roxy Igoe, whose favorite artists are Taylor Swift, Sting and Justin Timberlake. “I feel very happy…when I sing,” she said. “I feel more involved.”

Many of the students in the show choir are also preparing to perform in “The Little Mermaid,” at the end of the school year. The participants will play the part of mer sisters, princesses and other roles as part of a public, schoolwide production.

“Every year…we get bigger and bigger.” Epstein said.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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