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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

5 singers selected for Coastal Region Honors Choir

Robyn Peters
Sophomores Joyce Lee (left) and Sahana Kumar (middle) sing during a rehearsal.

Sophomores Sahana Kumar, Joyce Lee and Navya Rao and juniors Nikki Bashyam and Aria Zhang were selected this fall for the Coastal Region Honor Choir. 

After three days of rehearsals from Nov. 16-18, they performed at Chabot College on Nov. 18. Scoring highly on the audition, Bashyam was further selected for the All-State Honor Choir and will perform at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on Feb. 3.

“They get top-level conductors and educators for these groups, so students get a chance to work with some really wonderful teachers there,” choir teacher Beth Nitzan said. “It just ups the level of musicality and musicianship that they’re able to achieve in a way that is really special and usually new for people.”

Auditions for the Coastal Region Honor Choir were held for students from Northern California and the Bay Area. After sight singing (singing without prior practice of the given piece) and singing chromatic, major and minor scales, applicants were required to sing a prepared art song or aria — a solo song from an opera — in Italian, French, German or Spanish. 

Conductors of the Soprano Alto (SSAA), Tenor Bass (TTBB) and mixed (SATB) choirs evaluated applicants based on the audition. Rao, Zhang and Bashyam were selected for SATB and Kumar and Lee were selected for SSAA.

“I was kind of nervous, but at the same time I had done it last year and got in, so I knew what to expect and what was expected of me,” Rao said.

Students were notified of their acceptance on Oct. 6. They traveled to Chabot College in Hayward and rehearsed from 3-10 hours a day from Nov. 16-18. The intense regimen led to a 2-hour performance on Nov. 18. 

The ensembles rehearsed and performed “Turn the World Around” by Henry Belafonte and Robert Freedman, “Kasar Mie La Gaji” by Alberto Grau and “Confitemini Domino,” the Latin opening words of Psalm 118. 

“The rehearsal was mostly learning about the nuances and meaning of the songs that we were singing,” Bashyam said. “I also learned how to adapt to singing with a group and fix my own mistakes.”

The program’s elite conductors and environment allowed singers an opportunity to practice and improve. According to Bashyam, who has participated in choir since sixth grade and participated in the Honors Choir since her sophomore year, singing with a variety of voices is beneficial to individual improvement.

Besides this opportunity for improvement, the performance was also a unique experience for the five students who went. 

“It was just really an exhilarating experience to see everyone there because they participated in choir and enjoyed singing,” Rao said. “I made a lot of friends from other places that I never would have met if not for this.”

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