La Cañada High School’s Chamber Singers kick-started the holiday season last Friday, sharing tidings of comfort and joy with elementary school campuses in a series of concerts that doubled as a mission to recruit and inspire the next generation of talent.
Choral Director Dr. Jeff Brookey said he began the tradition 11 years ago so older elementary school students could learn about the many singing opportunities that await them once they enter LCHS 7/8. Middle-schoolers can participate in the men’s or women’s ensemble or audition for a spot on the co-ed vocal ensemble choir.
“The idea is to get out and spread cheer to the kids. But it also serves as a recruitment,” Brookey said of the pop-up concerts. “Most of these [LCHS] kids started singing in junior high, loved it and stuck with it.”
In a performance at Paradise Canyon Elementary, 33 chamber singers in red sweatshirts and Santa hats delighted fourth- through sixth-graders with holiday favorites that combined classic carols, Hanukkah songs and fun medleys.
In between numbers, Brookey shared interesting tidbits about the choral program, including a fun reveal about the group’s upcoming spring trip.
“Do you see what’s on our sweatshirts?” Brookey asked the students, who correctly identified Paris’ Eiffel Tower. “Why do we have an Eiffel Tower on our sweatshirts? It’s because we’re going to France!”
Paradise Canyon alumni Colin Lyman and Ashlyn Oh shared their personal experiences joining the choral program in seventh grade, eventually becoming chamber singers and performing internationally, including a spring 2017 concert in Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel.
“It’s been fantastic,” Oh said. “Two years ago, we went to Italy and we got to sing to the pope.”
“If you don’t know if you can sing, try it out and see how it is,” Lyman said. “It’s an amazing experience, because you basically make a lot of friends — it’s a fun time.”
After a rousing “Hanukkah, O Hanukkah” and a jazzy rendition of “Carol of the Bells,” Brookey promised he’d be back in the spring to share more. Children cheered and whistled in appreciation of the concert, and a brief reprieve from school work.
Fifth-graders Lila Dancsecs and Ryan Renshaw were impressed by the talents of the singers, but weren’t sure they had the chops to pursue singing in middle school.
Sixth-grader Lauren Adkins, however, who recently joined the Los Angeles Children’s Choir, said she was interested.
“This year and in fourth- and fifth-grade I did choir here at the school,” she said, indicating an interest in continuing into middle school. “I want to be in the choir there, too.”