Over 1,000 Student Singers to Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Annual High School Choir Festival
The celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles Master Chorale's Annual High School Choir Festival will be so joyous, it cannot be contained within the walls of Walt Disney Concert Hall! As part of the celebratory Festival Day on Friday, May 3, over 1,000 student singers will give a pop-up performance outdoors on the main staircase of Disney Hall on Grand Avenue at 11:30 AM. Internationally renowned choral conductor and composer Eric Whitacre, who is the 2019 Festival's guest artist, will lead the students in a performance of Pentatonix's Sing, arranged for the Master Chorale by Ben Bram and Pentatonix.
The main event on Festival Day is the Festival concert performed by the students at 1 PM conducted by Grant Gershon, the Master Chorale's Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, and Whitacre, the Master Chorale's Swan Family Artist-in-Residence. The program for this year's concert includes Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, works by contemporary choral composers Abbie Betinis, Sydney Guillaume, and Rosephanye Powell, and the 17th century hymn Hanacpachap cussicuinin by Juan Pérez Bocanegra. In addition to the pop-up performance of Sing, Whitacre will conduct performances of his own compositions, Cloudburst and Fly to Paradise. The Festival concert grand finale will be a performance of Lean On Me by Bill Withers.
A hundred of the participating students have been selected by their choir directors for the prestigious Honor Choir. Members of the Honor Choir learn additional repertoire that they perform on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage during the Festival concert. (Owing to the large size of the group, the other student singers are placed throughout the audience seats in the hall to perform.)
In addition to the Festival concert at 1 PM, Festival Day includes a performance by the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Ensemble in Walt Disney Concert Hall conducted by Associate Conductor Jenny Wong at 11 AM. This performance by 16 Master Chorale singers is a professional showcase for the students.
Both the Festival concert and the Chamber Ensemble concert are open to friends and family of the participants, supporters, and members of the community, and are free to attend. Ticket reservations are required, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of tickets can be reserved in advance of May 3 at lamasterchorale.org. Tickets will also be available on the day of the concert on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10 AM in the main lobby of Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale is proud to engage guest artists to be part of the Festival, increasing the young singers' exposure to the choral industry's top musicians. Grammy®-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre's concert music has been performed throughout the world by millions of amateur and professional musicians alike, while his ground-breaking Virtual Choirs have united singers from over 120 different countries.
In his role as the Master Chorale's Swan Family Artist-in-Residence Eric has conducted the professional ensemble in performances of his own works including the world premiere of The Sacred Veil in February 2019. He was a guest conductor at Big Sing L.A. in June 2017 and he was the host and a galvanizing force of Big Sing California in July 2018, uniting thousands of choral singers around the world through live concerts and a livestream.
Over the three decades, guest artists have included a who's-who of the choral field, including Dr. Edith A. Copley, Rollo Dilworth, María Guinand, Francisco J Núñez, Moira Smiley, and Tesfa Wondemagegnehu.
In 2016 the Festival concert was seen by hundreds of thousands of people on television and online when guest artist Tesfa Wondemagegnehu and Grant Gershon added a tribute to music legend Prince to the program. Prince had died just the day before and so they arranged a version of his song Purple Rain to pay tribute. The subsequent performance garnered extensive media coverage, including a Los Angeles Times video that has been viewed over 392,800 times.
Gershon says the sheer scale of the event, that gives the students such a thrilling opportunity to sing en masse, never fails to inspire him: "The Annual High School Choir Festival is one of the most exhilarating days of the year for the Master Chorale and such an impactful program and event for these young singers Many studies have shown that children who sing in choirs have greater academic success and learn valuable life skills, and people who sang in the Festival frequently tell us how being part of such a massive group and getting to perform in Walt Disney Concert Hall is an experience they truly treasure. It is an enormous honor to conduct this milestone 30th concert, and I know that having Eric Whitacre - a bona fide choral rock star - join us this year is going to make this one huge party!"
The Los Angeles Master Chorale's Annual High School Choir Festival is made possible by the generous support of Jerry and Terri Kohl, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Cheryl Petersen and Roger Lustberg, Rosemary Schroeder, Ann Peppers Foundation, Bryant and Judi Danner, Carolyn L. Miller, The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, John and Beverly Stauffer Foundation, Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, Friars Charitable Foundation, and Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.
Photo credit: Frances Chee