By: Kamran Flemish
On March 2-5,2022, the Western Region Honor Choir conference took place in Long Beach, California. It brought together choir students from Arizona, Utah, California, Oregon, and Hawaii. These students came to Long Beach and rehearsed the songs assigned to them for two days, 12 hours at a time! Ms. Angelina Fitzhugh, JLS Choir teacher, and the JLS Choir team attended it as well.
During the conference, three choirs were prepared, the Gospel Choir, The High School Choir, and the Youth Choir, performing under directors Dr. Marcela Molina, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, and Dr. Rosephanye Powell. The youth choir was composed of middle school students ages 12-15, the high school students ages 16-19, and the gospel ages 14-20. Tesfa Wondemagegnehu was the coral director for one of North America’s largest LGBTQIA+ choirs, and he directed for the high school choir. Dr. Marcela Molina holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and the University of Arizona she was the conductor for the Youth Choir. Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of choral music. She has an impressive catalog of works published by Hal Leonard Corporation, the Fred Bock Music Company/Gentry Publications, Oxford University Press, Alliance Music Publications, and Shawnee. She was the conductor of the gospel choir. The Choirs were taught and directed by highly renowned professionals, who ensured an amazing performance.
One of the students who participated, Ella Renazco-Sperling, said that she “ had fun and learned a lot!” Ella and the other members went through rigorous training not just in the music but in singing as a whole. Even though they trained for long periods of time, they still had time to socialize and make friends from all over the west coast, creating bonds between states.
A photo taken from the performance (liv grace on the Left Mike)
There were also a few songs that were written specifically for the conference, such as Hear Me Roar by Liv Grace, that relayed deep messages about social problems, police brutality, and racism.
They all stayed in the same hotels where the rehearsals were hosted, coming down to rehearse at 9 am, and leaving around 10 pm. They practiced songs such as Ad Astra, Tres cantos, and Sing to Me. If you want to try participating in an honor choir, orchestra, or band, contact your elective teacher for more information about how to join. The conference takes place every two years, however, if you want a similar experience without waiting, the California honor choir, band, and orchestra take place every year.
In conclusion, the Western Region Honor Choir was fun for everyone who came to Long Beach, and the students were taught many techniques that will further them as singers.