SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - April 2012


Message from the President - Rodger Guerrero
Advocate (noun): from Latin advocatus, “one summoned [to give evidence];” derives from Latin advocāre, “to call or summon to;” 1. a person who argues for a cause; supporter or defender; 2. a person who pleads in another’s behalf; an intercessor.

Despite the fact that choral music continues to be America’s favored performing art, and despite continuous, multi-pronged advocacy efforts, opportunities for youth to participate in the choral art continue to decline (The Chorus Impact Study: How Children, Adults, and Communities Benefit from Choruses, 2009). All choral directors surely preach the good news [and are supported by extensive, convincing multimodal evidence] that the choral experience comprehensively benefits children. All of us can provide significant anecdotal testimony as to choral music’s positive impact upon the singers we teach. We know that participation in a choral ensemble can serve to enhance academic achievement, cultivate emotional equilibrium, and build character and self-discipline. We believe that “Everybody needs to sing. Every soul has regions that only music can touch. To be human is to deserve the arts.” (Donald Heinz: “A Framework for Celebration,” The Choral Journal, 32:7) Notwithstanding our collective passion and dogmata, the results of our efforts to argue for the choral cause continue to be inconsistent.

As choral advocates, we are summoned “to give evidence,” but we must learn to do so in a multi-tiered manner. At the most basic level, we must communicate as often as possible with as many people as we can about the benefits of the choral experience. Parents, fellow teachers, administrators, community organizations, and politicians must hear our call that every child deserves a chance to sing. If our voices seem individually insignificant, then we must join together and leap aboard the advocacy train of organizations who can effectively plead on our behalf. For example, take more than a moment to visit the new Stand Up 4 Music website ( This site is collectively sponsored by CMEA, The California Arts Project, ACDA, SCVA, as well as our sister professional instrumental organizations. Become a member, donate, spread the word with friends and family, and remain informed about legislative actions which may serve to boost or damage choral music educational opportunities for our youth.

Yet others must also see us to believe us. We must therefore learn to be stronger choral music “activocates.” We should endeavor to participate in all available workshops, clinics and conventions in order to learn from and share ideas with our choral music colleagues. Yes, beautiful convention choirs can profoundly inspire us (like those from Mira Costa HS and Tesoro HS did at the recent ACDA Western Division Convention!). Likewise, convention interest and round table sessions can appreciably inform us (how phenomenal were Dr. Cristian Grases’ “Latin American Rhythm in Your Blood” and Jean Applonie’s “Advocacy – The State of the Arts” sessions at the ACDA Convention?). Nonetheless, choral music advocacy cannot experience success without our collective commitment to active and visible participation in the choral organizations which acutely benefit all of us. As the only California choral organization “dedicated to the advancement of vocal music at all grade levels in the schools of Southern California,” SCVA sponsors a multitude of activities which assist SoCal school choral directors and singers. All of the activities are planned and coordinated by volunteers who could use your active and visible help. In fact, as the final act of my two-year term as SCVA President, I will soon present a new slate of proposed officers for 2012-2014. Any current SCVA member is eligible to become an Executive Board Member. Simply contact me and specify in what capacity you wish to serve, and I will place your name on the ballot.

Finally, at the loftiest level of advocacy, we can best demonstrate the value of the choral experience by continuing to produce beautiful music each and every day. Whether we teach ten novices or 50 veterans, we must make beautiful music. Whether we work with one all-inclusive choir or a logically tiered series of ensembles, we must make beautiful music. Whether our teaching assignment is all-choral or curricularly diverse, we must make beautiful music. Whether we are adequately or insufficiently funded, we must make beautiful music. Whether the moment is fleeting or enduring, we must make beautiful music. Despite being over-worked, underpaid, mentally exhausted, or emotionally drained, we must make beautiful music. What better way is there to “give evidence” to the intrinsic splendor of the choral experience? What more palpable, rewarding act of advocacy can more proficiently summon others to our noble cause?


Morten Lauridsen, Composer
The Angeles Chorale invites you to join them in recognizing and honoring the “Shining Knight” of choral composition, Morten Lauridsen, on Sunday, April 15 on the campus of the University of Southern California.

Kimberlea Daggy, KUSC announcer, will be the emcee for the evening. Clips from the new award-winning documentary about Dr. Lauridsen entitled “Shining Night” will be shown and singers from the Angeles Chorale will perform a couple of his memorable compositions.

Should you wish to receive an invitation or to contribute to the Tribute book being compiled in Dr. Lauridsen’s honor, please phone Sharon Mountford at 818.340.5084 or visit


FESTIVAL FAQs and ANSWERS by Jennifer Stanley, VP-I of Festivals

HOW LONG WILL THE FESTIVAL BE? SCVA festivals are 90-120 minutes in length. All choirs are required to be present for the entire festival so they can hear the performances of all the other choirs. There are 6-8 choirs enrolled in each SCVA choral festival. A full high school festival has 8 choirs. A full middle school festival has 6 choirs. A full clinic festival has 6 choirs. Each choir performs a set of music (typically 3 pieces) that does not exceed 12 minutes.

WHEN DO WE WARM UP? Short onstage warm-ups (3-5 minutes) are available during the hour before the festival begins. There is no offstage warmup room available.

I REGISTERED FOR A FESTIVAL BUT NO ONE HAS CONTACTED ME. When you register online, you immediately receive a registration confirmation email from This email should also be used as your invoice. You can log in to to view your festival registrations and payment status. Your festival host will email you one month before your festival with specific info on directions and parking, and ask you for your repertoire info for the festival program.

WHO ARE THE JUDGES? Each festival has two certified adjudicators who will give comments and/or grades to each director. You will find out the names of your judges from your festival host; they are not published online. One judge will do detailed written comments, and the other judge will audio record verbal comments. For more info on audio recording verbal comments, see What do I Bring? below.

WHAT DO I BRING TO THE FESTIVAL? Each director must bring TWO ORIGINAL OCTAVOS of each piece being performed for use by the adjudicators. Duplicating copyrighted music is illegal. Any ensemble submitting photocopies will have its adjudication withheld. Also BRING YOUR OWN RECORDING DEVICE (BYORD) to the festival to receive recorded comments from the adjudicators. You will need to provide a person to assist the judge in operating the device if needed. If no recording device is provided, then two written adjudications will be received. Your festival host may choose to provide digital audio recordings of adjudicator comments; in this case you do not need to BYORD. Your octavos and recording device will be returned to you at the end of the festival along with your score sheets and plaque.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMMENTS AND GRADES? You may choose to have “comments only” or “comments and grades.” The SCVA festival score sheet uses letter grades (ABCDF), not points. You can download a PDF of the judging form at If you choose “comments only” you will receive comments without letter grades and a rating. If you choose “comments and grades,” then the grades given to you by the two judges will be averaged into a rating (good, excellent, superior). At the conclusion of the festival, your octavos, score sheets, and recording device will be returned to you with your plaque and rating. However, no places will be awarded (first, second, etc) and you will NOT receive a score recap sheet.

I REWROTE SOME OF THE PARTS TO FIT THE VOCAL RANGE OF MY SINGERS. WHAT DO I DO? Clearly notate your changes on two original octavos for the judges. They cannot evaluate the performance for accuracy without this.

DO WE HAVE TO SING A PIECE FROM THE RECOMMENDED FESTIVAL MUSIC LIST? No. The SCVA Recommended Festival Music List is recommended, not required. Other repertoire may be used, but it must be of the same high musical quality as the pieces on the Recommended Festival Music List.

CAN I USE A PRE-RECORDED ACCOMPANI-MENT TRACK? No. Pre-recorded accompaniment tracks may NOT be used in choral festivals. Any ensemble using pre-recorded accompaniment will have its adjudication withheld.

DO I HAVE TO BE A MEMBER OF SCVA? Yes. An SCVA Choral Festival is open to the choirs of current SCVA members. According to the SCVA Bylaws "The membership year shall be from August 1 to June 30."

CAN MY CHOIR ATTEND TWO DIFFERENT FESTIVALS? No. Each choir can only attend one festival per year. However, the free choir of a festival host may attend a second “away” festival.

CAN I ENROLL THREE OF MY ENSEMBLES IN THE SAME FESTIVAL? No. One school is limited to enrolling two ensembles in a festival.


Show choir offers another opportunity (along with chamber choir, girl’s choir, men’s choir, A Cappella groups, Jazz choir, concert choir, musical theatre productions, All-District choir and All-State choir) for our talented choir students to perform in front of exuberant crowds and top-notch adjudicators. The lifelong friendships and memories that grow and blossom by being a part of high school choirs are the envy of many students. Choir gives students the edge in academics by building self-confidence, work ethic, teamwork skills, self-discipline and organizational skills. I marvel at my students vigorous academic schedules (AP everything!) plus show choir, chamber choir, musical theatre, dance team and sports and wonder how they will ever find the time to get everything learned! They are never a disappointment. Let’s remember to tell our students how amazing they are and how much we admire them for achieving so much in such little time. Let’s also be grateful that we are blessed with a life that is filled with music making every day (and sometimes every hour of every day!) we are in the classroom. Is there any other profession that is as gratifying as this?

California is one of the premiere states for high school show choir. We are well represented across the country and in Canada with show choirs that year after year compete with high schools and middle schools from other North American cities. Many California schools win a National Championship title. There are National Championship Competitions in several cities throughout the country for schools to choose. Good luck to all of the schools going to Nationals this spring!

Last year in the spring, SCVA held its annual show choir competition. The schools represented were:
Black Mountain High School, Slauson Middle School, Southpointe Middle School, Mark Keppel High School, Eisenhower High School, Gladstone High School, Carter High School, Apple Valley High School, Gladstone High School, Eisenhower High School, Diamond Bar High School, Granada Hills High School and Apple Valley High School.

This year, on Saturday, May 5, Redlands East Valley High School will be hosting this annual event sponsored by SCVA. The schools that will be attending as of this date will be: Granada Hills Charter High School, Duarte High School, Eisenhower High School, Apple Valley High School, Cypress High School, Citrus Valley High School and Saugus High School. Several of these schools will be bringing more than one group. If you are still looking for another show choir competition, there is still room for more competitors and this is the last opportunity in 2012! 

Competition Guidelines
Each group will be allowed a maximum of 17 minutes note to note. Set ups, tear downs, clearing the stage and the time taken to announce the groups are not included. Penalties will only occur if a group purposely uses time unproductively. Each group must monitor their own transitions and to move along the process.

Check the SCVA web site for the on-line application and payment options


High School Honor Choir - John Hendricks, VP of Senior Honor Choirs

The 2012 Senior Honor Choirs event will be here before we know it, and your students won’t want to miss the opportunity to work with the conductors we’ve invited to guide our groups this year! Now is the time to begin, or better yet, continue the work that we do with our singers to be ready for their auditions in September and October. Preparing for these auditions has many benefits. It improves our students’ work in our own choirs, and instills musical confidence—especially if they go through a sequential, steady process of practicing their Italian song and their applied music theory. This includes sight singing, tonal recall, and performing a major scale, a chromatic scale, a major triad, and a minor triad. The students who typically score well at the honor choir auditions have almost always been those who have practiced their skills and enhanced their musicianship each day, every day, over time. Kudos to our colleagues who guide them and support them through this process! Our musicians who have participated in the honor choirs have often cited their experiences as transformative, exhilarating, inspiring and life changing, so please encourage your choristers to audition! This year, three exceptional conductors, including one legend, will lead our students in song.

Our 2012 Mixed Honor Choir will be conducted by the world-renowned Rodney Eichenberger, Professor Emeritus from Florida State University and formerly of the University of Southern California, who has profoundly influenced generations of conductors and provided students with extraordinary experiences in 80 All-State Choirs and in honor choirs around the world. He has guest conducted or lectured at more than 85 U.S., Australian and New Zealand Universities. He work is truly legendary, and we are so excited that our students will have the experience of singing with him this year.

Our 2012 Women’s Choir will be conducted by Dr. Jonathan Talberg, Director of Choral, Vocal, and Opera Studies at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. Currently the President of California ACDA, and recognized around the world for his choral excellence, Dr. Talberg is returning to conduct at SCVA this year. Students in 2006 had an exhilarating weekend with him when he led our Mixed Honor Choir. In fact, my students who experienced his work still talk about the powerful influence that he had on them, some as long as five years after their graduation. We are beyond thrilled that Dr. Talberg will be with us this year.

And finally, our Men’s Honor Choir will be conducted by the incomparable Ms. Lori-Marie Rios, Associate Professor of Music at College of the Canyons, and the President-Elect of California ACDA. Ms. Rios’ choirs have repeatedly achieved international acclaim. Students and colleagues have described her conducting and singing as mesmerizing and electrifying. Currently in high demand on the honor choir “circuit”, she led our Women’s Honor Choir in 2009. This year, our men will have the unique pleasure and privilege of singing for her.


Over the next two years, we will be moving to even more of a web-based system for our registration and audition site selection than we have used in the past. This will allow us to have a later registration closing date, and ultimately, for students to know their audition times and locations at the moment that they register. This will enable our members to have more time in early September to encourage their students to audition. In addition, we’ll be able to accomplish faster turnaround time getting the honor choir music to our students after the results have been posted. In addition, they will be able to purchase their tickets to the honor choir performance online in advance. We will send email reminders to members that outline and explain our new procedures as they are implemented through 2013, and to ask for adjudicators. Stay tuned… we think that you’ll like these changes! 

Important Dates (subject to slight changes, except for the audition dates, rehearsals, and the Honor Choirs Weekend):
  On-line Audition registration opens: August 30
  Audition registration closes: September 21
  Audition times and locations confirmed: September 24
  Audition dates: Saturday, September 29, and Saturday, October 6
  First rehearsal: Saturday, October 27, Irvine High School
  Honor Choirs Weekend: Friday, November 16, and Saturday, November 17, probably at Santa Monica High School
  Honor Choirs Concert: Saturday, November 17, 7:30 p.m.

In closing, I’d like to express my deepest thanks to all who have supported our honor choirs over the past year, and in particular to Tina Peterson, our VP-II of Senior Honor Choirs, for her tireless work on behalf of our students, her commitment to bringing top conductors to work with SCVA participants, and for the many innovations that she has offered to make our registration and audition process better for our members. Thank you also to Mark Freedkin, our brilliant technical mind at SCVA. Our honor choirs will be in exceptionally good hands with Ms. Peterson at the helm when my term is over. Please contact me at, if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you and your students at our honor choir events this year!


JUNIOR HIGH HONOR CHOIR - Vanessa Ventre, VP-Junior High Honor Choir
Dear Colleagues, Students, and Parents,

We had about the same turnout of students as last year for the Junior High Honor Choir auditions. Out of the 140 students that auditioned, 76 were selected for this big honor and wonderful experience. Congratulations to all those that auditioned and those that were selected for either the Treble Ensemble or Mixed Ensemble. I would be interested in hearing ways we can make the audition more approachable and less intimidating for middle school aged students and directors. Hopefully next year, if more transparency is created in regards to the audition process, we will have more directors encourage their students to audition.

By the time you read this, I will have had the pleasure of rehearsing about half of the group at our regional rehearsal in Santa Monica. During our rehearsal, the students will get a taste of the pieces they will be performing on their concert in April. The concert promises to be challenging musically but also quite entertaining. Mr. Modica is also bringing his college choir from the University of Redlands to sing a few songs and help out during the day.

I cannot wait until all the honor choir students come together, April 28 at Lincoln Middle School, for a day of rehearsing with our guest conductor. The concert will commence at 6:00pm in Santa Monica at the Lincoln Middle School Auditorium. Our auditorium seats over 400, and I know these students would love a supportive and appreciative audience. Please come and bring your friends and family to share in this wonderful concert.


Jeffe Huls - VP, Vocal Solo Competition
This year’s solo competition had its final round at Rugby Theater on the beautiful campus of Harvard-Westlake Upper School on Sunday, March 11. Site Host Rodger Guerrero deserves an extra “thank you” for helping us feel welcomed and supported as we shared an afternoon of music making. Our guest adjudicators, Harriet Fraser and Abdiel Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Master Chorale were very impressed with the high level of musicianship demonstrated by all of our finalists. Keep your eyes peeled for more information for next year’s competition. I hope you will all find time to add a solo unit to your curriculum and to send some students next year.

  1st Place: Gregory Sliskovich – The Buckley School
  2nd Place: Megan Ward – Harvard-Westlake
  3rd Place: Michaela Blanchard – Orange County High School of the Arts
  4th Place: Jonah Ragir – Pacific Hills School
  Most Promisitng : Kelly Muller – Cajon High School
  Middle School Finalist: Natalie Weber – Oak Middle School

Thank you to all participating schools and directors:

Arnold O. Beckman High School Nancy Stuck
Bell Gardens High School  Anne Cherchian
Bishop Amat High School  Jennifer Srisamai
Carol Tingle Voice Studio Carol Tingle
Dillon Vocal Studio Rhonda Dillon
Fullerton Union High School Academy of the Arts Scott Hedgecock
Harvard-Westlake School Rodger Guerrero
Katella High School Shawn Taylor
Keener Music Studio Kristina Keener
La Canada High School Jeff Brookey
Loma Linda Academy Jeremy Morada
Mark Keppel High School Tony Azeltine
Matilija Junior High School Don Orser
Newbury Park High School John Sargent
Oak Middle School Rachelle Randeen
Oak Park high School Heidi Cissell
Oakwood School Rich Brunner
Orange County High School of the Arts Sarah Drabant
Pioneer High School Evan Mooney
Rosemead High School Ruth Gray
Santa Monica High School Jeffe Huls
Sierra Vista High School Suzanne Brookey
The Alpert Studio Melanie Alpert
The Buckley School John Hendricks
Westview High School Crystal Maurer
Wilson Middle School John Andrews


Other Important Information
On-Line SCVA Membership Application
Calendar of Events