Voices of Gold
Writer Lara Piu
A bouquet of paper roses may not be fragrant, but for Diamond Canyon School choral teacher Caroline Kaupa, they smell as sweet as the real thing. A few eighth-grade choir students handmade them to symbolize the journey of Caroline and her 60 seventh and eighth grade choir members, some of whom have worked with her since the fourth grade.
“They used the sheet music we had devoured over the school year to make into beautiful prize-winning songs,” Caroline says. “The songs we learn are like flowers: they grow, they develop over a year’s time, and they sometimes turn into incredible musical experiences that win big on a national stage.”
Last September, Images Arizona spoke to Caroline and her award-winning choir about their accomplishments, and they have new triumphs to report this year. In May, the choir placed first in the middle school concert choir category and earned a gold rating from three nationally-ranked choral judges as well as a Festival of Gold certificate at the WorldStrides Heritage Festival in Anaheim.
“I was so proud that this was the second year in a row that our choir was named first place winners,” Caroline says.
Her group has competed at the conference for six years in a row, and this year was their second consecutive first place award. The group performed a three-part mixed song, an a cappella traditional folk song and a Latin piece in the concert choir category.
“I had had it in my music library for many years, but never performed because I never had the right groupings,” Caroline says about the Latin piece. “It was a huge challenge, but the students took it on.”
Each year, Caroline carefully selects the songs to fit that year’s group.
“With middle school voices, some are considered unchanged, so it is important to work with where your students are at this moment in their vocal development,” she says. “The voicing you choose will be very dependent on that year’s specific individual singers.”
Rehearsals happen daily during the school year and at competition time, it takes a village. This year, 37 singers, 13 chaperones, three certified teaching assistants and one piano accompanist traveled to the competition. They performed in new choir attire thanks to a grant from Anthem’s Safeway.
“The students felt very special wearing them for the first time,” she recalls.
The group’s thoughtful preparation, hard work and new look paid off.
“I was overwhelmed with humility when they called our school’s name as the winner again this year,” Caroline recalls. “You can never predict how judges are going to score, and the thing they all said is that our group was well prepared, looked great and had an appropriate and well-developed tone quality.”
This month, another 50 students will start the process all over again. While the potential kudos are nice, they are perhaps in it for something more.
“My students know when they have received a ‘be still my heart’ moment from me,” Caroline explains. “We are delivering a gift to our listeners with the power of touching someone’s heart.”