Peninsula schools breathing new life into choral-music program
by SCOTT HOPKINS
May 08, 2014 | 1600 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Vocal Point, Point Loma High School’s new choir group, made its debut at the school’s Winter Concert held in December at Point Loma Nazarene University. Members are, from left, Anais Sotello, Mia Martinez, Margo McClane, Heather Ruiz, Angelica Valenton, Alex Cook, Katherine Shaw, Andreas McColley, Austyn Meyers and Meghan McKenzie. Hidden is Julie Porter as Pamila Whitney conducts.                                                                                Courtesy photo
Vocal Point, Point Loma High School’s new choir group, made its debut at the school’s Winter Concert held in December at Point Loma Nazarene University. Members are, from left, Anais Sotello, Mia Martinez, Margo McClane, Heather Ruiz, Angelica Valenton, Alex Cook, Katherine Shaw, Andreas McColley, Austyn Meyers and Meghan McKenzie. Hidden is Julie Porter as Pamila Whitney conducts. Courtesy photo
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The disappearance of choral-music programs from Peninsula-area schools several years ago went unnoticed by many, but it did capture the attention of several passionate people.

And on May 14, the harmonious sounds of student voices will again come to life in the inaugural Point Loma Cluster Choral Concert being held in the spacious Ann Tripp Jackson Auditorium at Dana Middle School.

Newly revived choirs from Point Loma High School and Correia and Dana middle schools will perform songs individually and as one large group during the 6:30 p.m. event.

All members of the community who appreciate choral music are invited to enjoy student voices and participate in a fundraising raffle and bake sale. 

The singing celebration is largely the work of Kerri De Rosier, a past band booster president at Point Loma High. After her daughter graduated in June, De Rosier struck a deal with the school’s flourishing instrumental music program director, James Sepulvado. She said she would return if given permission to start a choir.

De Rosier, a former choir member at Madison High School, knew firsthand how strong the former Pointer choir program was.

“They routinely trounced us in festivals and competitions,” she said. “They were the best in the city.”

De Rosier’s first call was to close friend and fellow singer Pamila Whitney. Whitney agreed to teach the PLHS group, and word was spread on the Pointer campus last fall about the possible formation of an after-school singing program.

The new group gave itself the name Vocal Point and debuted to rave reviews and enthusiastic support from instrumental musicians at a winter concert on the Point Loma Nazarene University campus.

Word of vocal music’s demise had also spread to Pointer alums. Three of them undertook a massive project last summer.

The former members of the elite Madrigals show choir set out to organize PLHS’ vocal sheet music collection, which was, put simply, a mess.

Mark Niederman and Anne Colt (class of 1967) and Kathy Lazzaro (1966) spent months going through some 270,000 pages of music that had been randomly scattered throughout closets and even a former restroom at the campus.

When they were finished, 11 large file cabinets were filled with sheet music for more than 1,000 songs, filed on a database by genre, title, number of pages and copies available. The song file cabinet number and drawer are also included.

The Beacon shared the trio’s efforts in a recent publication. Google “Trio’s love of music may orchestrate rebirth of singing program at PLHS.”

At Correia Middle School, teacher Ina Soliz began her choir program in February and leads a group numbering 25 singers in grades 7 and 8.

“The students are enthusiastic,” Soliz said after an energetic after-school rehearsal this month.

Soliz came to Correia from the Creative Performing Media Arts School in Clairemont, where she was the first choir director in 2005.

Choir was also her emphasis at the Crane School of Music, part of the State University of New York system.

At Dana, Kirsten Shelter, a recent graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, was recently hired to teach choir, which meets for rehearsal at

8 a.m. 

Funding, as always, is an issue.

“All of this takes money,” said De Rosier. “Through a grant, private donations and the help of the Correia Association, I’ve been able to provide stipends to Ina and Kirsten. We’ll need more funding to keep this going next year.”

Another of De Rosier’s wishes is for choir to once again become an elective class at area schools.

“With a regular class period, you can do so much more,” she said.

At Correia, her wish has been granted for the 2014-15 school year, including funding.

PLHS remains an after-school club, while Dana will be an elective funded through grants and fundraising.

De Rosier is targeting the 2015-16 school year for elective status at PLHS.

To assist programs in any Point Loma secondary school, visit  www.correia-music.com/choir.html. 

EXTRA NOTES

• When performing, every chorus member must, by copyright laws, have an original copy of the sheet music, usually priced at $2-3 per copy.

• Choral teachers now use computers to play accompaniment music during rehearsals. Soliz used her classroom piano sparingly while leading the Correia group.

• De Rosier said she’s received support from principals Hans Becker (PLHS), Jonathan McDade (Correia) and Scott Irwin (Dana).

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