Singin’ in the Big Apple

Writer Grace Hill
Photographer Taylor Ohara

With the school year ending, many students excitedly anticipate the coming summer months filled with fun and memorable vacations. However, one group of high schoolers, the Boulder Creek High School Jaguar Choir, might feel a little nonchalant about their summer plans. For them, not much can top what they recently experienced.

Kirk Douglas, BCHS choir director, would agree. When asked about the overall experience, he chooses few, but powerful words to describe it: “Magical, mesmerizing, life-changing.”

So, what experience could inspire such a favorable response? That would be the 2017 Choirs of America Nationals for Top Choirs — a festival the choir was personally invited to attend.

“Boulder Creek was recognized as being a top choir by Nancie Tobison, an Anthem resident who recommended them for this honor based on their excellence and accomplishments,” explains Douglas. “Nancie is a freelance choral adjudicator for many national choral competitions and has become a scout for Choirs of America due to her reputation as a choral director in Barrington, Illinois.”
Getting to the event would still require some work of the choir. For the past eight months, the young vocalists spent time rehearsing and focusing on challenging choral music. Additionally, they sang at functions and offered their services to raise funds for the trip. Because of their diligence, they raised over $20,000 from community supporters.

Then the moment came. The choir headed to New York City March 21 and embarked on a life-changing journey. While there, the choir rehearsed with collegiate choral educators, schools from around the world, Broadway professionals, and one of the nation’s most celebrated conductors, Z. Randall Stroope.

But, of course, they made time for some leisurely activities. They attended two Broadway Theatre performances, including the premier of “Groundhog Day the Musical,” and then spent an evening at the legendary Cotton Club.

The experience culminated with their performance in one of the most prestigious concert venues in the country — grand Carnegie Hall. During the March 25 concert, the choir not only showcased their intense commitment to becoming skillful vocalists, but they also beautifully represented the school, the community of Anthem, and the State of Arizona.

Senior Alexandrea Lane sums it up: “This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will remember forever. Singing on the same stage as some of the greatest musicians of all time was absolutely unforgettable. It was the perfect ending to four amazing years in choir.”

It was also a memorable moment for Douglas. He took the stage, separate from the choir, during the featured artists’ performance, where he sang Belcore’s aria, “Come Paride Vezzoso” from “Opera L’elisir d’amore.”

With that kind of experience for all involved, a state of euphoria has no doubt taken over the group. Indeed, their summer might call for recovery time from such an intense past year. But more than likely, these young musicians probably feel more excited than ever to continue their musical journey.

Just ask senior John Momeyer. He says, “The trip gave me more opportunities than I would have ever been able to get on my own and made me realize I wanted to do music for the rest of my life.”

As the seniors now begin the next chapter in their musical careers, what awaits those who will continue with the BCHS Jaguar Choir?

“This experience opened the door to several incredible opportunities,” says Douglas. “In spring 2018, the show choirs will have the opportunity to compete in a national show choir competition in Los Angeles. Also, we are preparing a trip for our madrigal singers to perform at the White House that will potentially happen during the holidays next year or the year after.”

It seems the sky’s the limit with this remarkable school choir.

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