2013-04-11 / On the Town

Districtwide choir fest a rousing success

CONCERT REVIEW All District Choir Festival
By Cary Ginell


MOVING TO THE BEAT—Sequoia Middle School students perform selections from the musical “13” during the All District Choir Festival at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on April 2. Over four days, choir programs from Conejo Valley schools performed in the festival. At right, the Newbury Park High School concert choir performs “O Sifuni Mungu.” 
Photos by IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers MOVING TO THE BEAT—Sequoia Middle School students perform selections from the musical “13” during the All District Choir Festival at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on April 2. Over four days, choir programs from Conejo Valley schools performed in the festival. At right, the Newbury Park High School concert choir performs “O Sifuni Mungu.” Photos by IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers Watching some 200 elementary school kids perform “I Want to Be Happy” on the stage of the Fred Kavli Theatre is enough to cure anybody of the blues.

The kids shimmied, swayed and bounced last week, wearing white shirts and dark pants, looking like an army of exuberant penguins. It was clear how much they enjoyed performing in the All District Choir Festival at the Civic Arts Plaza.

Over four days, Conejo Valley Unified School District presented choir students from all its schools, showcasing its devotion to the arts in public education.

The festival featured students from elementary, middle and high schools in the district in a variety of vocal performances.

This year, the singers were accompanied by a small orchestra led by pianist Zach Spencer.

On April 3, choir students from five district elementary schools—Acacia, Aspen, Glenwood, Madrona and Wildwood—and Bridges Charter School performed three songs.

After the first song, the kids sang “Touch the Sky” from the Pixar film “Brave, then added sign language to Joe Raposo’s “Sing.”

Gary Fritzen led the Redwood Middle School choir in excerpts from the musical “Alice and the Mad Trials of Wonderland,” which Fritzen wrote with Terrin Adair- Lynch. (The show was profiled in the Feb. 21 issue of the Acorn.)

The students performed “This Must Be Wonderland” and “Jabberwocky,” which included an appearance by a Chinese dragon-like jabberwock, which was so large it had to be hoisted by nine students as it slithered across the stage.


LITTLE KIDS, BIG VOICES—Grace Younes, center, 7, of Sycamore Canyon School sings her heart out while performing with fellow students at the All District Choir Festival on April 2. 
IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers LITTLE KIDS, BIG VOICES—Grace Younes, center, 7, of Sycamore Canyon School sings her heart out while performing with fellow students at the All District Choir Festival on April 2. IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers As Redwood students prepared to perform “Alice,” Los Cerritos Middle School students Carly Shukiar and Caiden Babbitt sang a beautiful rendition of “I See the Light,” a duet from the 2010 Disney take on Rapunzel, “Tangled.”

The Thousand Oaks High School choir, led by Janna Wilhelm, performed two numbers: “Steam Heat,” from the musical “The Pajama Game” (performed by the concert choir) and “American Folk Rhapsody” (by the mixed choir).

The latter was a medley of traditional folk songs that included “Get Along Home Cindy,” “Simple Gifts” and Lead Belly’s “Jump Down, Turn Around.” The groups were accompanied by the school’s stalwart keyboardist, Kevin Fukagawa.

As an added treat, while the students from all of the schools gathered for the evening’s finale, T.O. High’s Annalea Fuci performed “I Speak Six Languages” from “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which the school will be staging in May.

The finale was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow’s “ Sing,” which was written to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. The combined Conejo school choirs sang an arrangement by Westlake Village’s Ed Lojeski.

Frank Laguardia served as master of ceremonies and producer for the festival. He has done a masterful job in coordinating the elementary school choir programs to inspire students to continue in the performing arts when they move on to middle and high school.

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