And the choir sang: Festival welcomes high school students

SOLO: Clarissa Perkins, Jazz soloist performs “I’ve Got the World on a String." PHOTO BY CHAMPAIGN WILLIAMS

High school choirs from surrounding Stockton and Lodi areas filled Atherton Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

The choir members came dressed in gowns and suits, as each prepared to perform for 25 minutes before an auditorium bursting with peers.

The Second Annual San Joaquin Delta College High School Choral Fest was hosted by Delta College Choir Director German Aguilar.

“What we want this to be is first and foremost an informative, learning and educational experience,” Aguilar said, “this is educational rather than competitive.”

Choral groups were given 20 minutes to warm-up and then directed to the auditorium where their performances were critiqued by Aguilar and guest clinician Dr. J. Edmund Hughes.

Hughes received a PhD in Choral Music and has recently retired from teaching music at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona.

“He is one of the best teachers that I have ever seen work,” Aguilar said. “I think people are going to learn a lot from him.”

As the choirs sang, Aguilar and Hughes jotted down key points to discuss during the clinics.

“We listen for concepts like blend, balance, intonation and clarity of the words,” Aguilar said.

Hughes then worked with each choir personally.

“What I try to do with each choir is be positive and focus on just a few things that can help them become better,” Hughes said.

Hughes was playful and spirited as he worked with the students. His lively sense of humor captured the student’s attention and those in attendance were receptive of his evaluations and appraisals.

“You’re not going to hear me say one negative comment to a choir,” Hughes said. “That’s the way I teach. You don’t need to be negative with anything.”

The Annual Choral Fest has generated a good following, and high school choir directors find that their students benefit from the clinics.

“Mr. Aguilar has brought life back to the choral scene in Stockton. He has brought us high school teachers together, he has brought us camaraderie, [and] he has brought back choral music,” said McNair High School Choir Director Karen Rogers.

The Choral Fest included guest performances from SJDC Delta Singers, as well as a classical solo by Joel Scantling from Concert Choir and a jazz solo by Clarissa Perkins, a Delta Vocal Jazz singer.

“We are featuring the Delta Program because in addition to this being an educational forum it is also a way for us to attract future music students to the program,” said Aguilar.