Clothes may not make the man, but when it comes to high school choirs, a well-coordinated and comfortable wardrobe can certainly help with the “wow” factor.
No one knows this better than La Cañada High School Choral Director Dr. Jeff Brookey, who spearheaded a reorganization of choir performers this school year that required a massive wardrobe change.
A new women’s ensemble combining female singers from LCHS 7/8 and those from grades 9-12 meant a new, cohesive attire would have to be selected. The new dresses are sleeveless with a cardinal bodice and long black skirt.
“We wanted new outfits that would still look nice on the younger girls but also look classy on the older girls,” Brookey said.
The change-up, however, left the choral department with 133 junior high women’s dresses that, despite their excellent condition, no longer fit the bill.
So Brookey went online, searching his extensive professional network to see if choir directors at other schools might need dresses. It didn’t take long before he landed on a hit.
Rebekah West, director of Choral Arts and Theater at Arroyo Seco Junior High School in Valencia, jumped at the chance for a fresh wardrobe.
“She came out right away in her pickup truck and loaded them up,” Brookey said. “She was ecstatic.”
Just three years into a new choral program, after the last one was cut and had to be completely rebuilt, the 41-member choir at Arroyo Seco Junior High receives no school funding and must cover its own costs.
The prospect of receiving dresses in good condition and free of charge was a real windfall, West told the Valley Sun in an email.
“I thought it was too good to be true — these outfits would have cost thousands of dollars to purchase,” the choir director said. “When I got to tell my students the next day, they were so excited we spent the rest of class making thank-you notes. It has been such a blessing.”
West said the new outfits debuted last semester during a winter concert and will be worn this year at festivals and in a spring concert held toward the end of the school year.
Leslie Lowes, co-president of the LCHS Choral Parents Assn. said donating the dresses fits perfectly with the organization’s mission to help share the joy of music with others.
“Jeff’s philosophy is that music spreads beauty and joy into the world and singing is an act of shining a light,” Lowes said. “To help others have a more harmonious presence in their performances — I think it really helps the light get out into other communities.”