The CVHS A Cappella and Madrigals choirs toured Chicago, Illinois from April 6 to April 9 and competed in the World Strides Competition. Choir took home a stunning six awards from the competition including first place for A Cappella, second place for Madrigals, the overall first place gold for all choral groups, best individual performances for Bune Locke and Caleb Castaneda, and the best choir with two or more groups.
“Probably the hardest part about tour was the fact that it was freezing cold. I mean the coldest I’d ever felt in my life, cold,” remarked Britney Eng, a junior in the A Cappella and Madrigals choir. Considering the moderate temperatures of sunny California, the snowy and windy Chicago never ascended 40 degrees fahrenheit for the duration of the tour. For many students, it was the first time they’d experienced active snowfall.
Choir students participated in many forms of clinics and competition to further their musical prowess in preparation for the annual Golden State Choral Competition, just two weeks away. On Saturday April 7, students ventured to Plainfield East High and the A Cappella concert choir performed their set of three songs which include “Christus Factus Est” composed by Anton Bruckner, “Dirshu Adonai” by Kenneth/Kirsten Lampl, and “Kanaval” by Sydney Guillaume. The CVHS Madrigals chamber choir performed their set of “Ave Maria,” by Robert Parsons, “O Sapientia” composed by Tadeja Vulc, and “Go Lovely Rose” by Eric Whitacre.
On Monday April 9, students attended a clinic at Northwestern University, which is ranked as one of the top schools for vocal performance, and had opportunity to work with Dr. Albert Pinsonneault, Associate Professor of Choral Studies.
“It’s refreshing to see a choir that actually knows how to move,” complimented Pinsonneault.
After the clinic, students traveled to the final stop before the airport, which was a cathedral a couple blocks down from Lincoln Park high. Students from CVHS and Lincoln Park High participated in an exchange, where CVHS A Cappella and Madrigals performed as well as the Lincoln Park chamber choir to listen to what choirs across the country are doing.
Being students in an army of 108 people, singing was not limited to the stage: the choirs performed in train stations, hotels, restaurants, buses, and planes. They even performed while dead tired on the flight back home with choir teacher Laryssa Sadoway using one of their trophies as her conducting baton.
Aside from singing, CVHS students ventured out into the city and explored its various tourist destinations and forms of entertainment. On Friday, students saw an improv theatre show in which performers created a show on the spot using Shakespearean language. Students also ate world-famous Chicago deep dish pizza at Gino’s East, explored Navy Pier and Millenium Park, which is home to what is colloquially known as “The Bean,” took an architectural boat tour on Chicago River, and experienced views of the city on Chicago’s 360 tilt on the John Hancock building. The final attraction involves lying against the side of the building as the floor beneath you tilts forward.
When Sadoway was asked what convinced her to tilt despite a fear of heights, she cited “teenage enthusiasm.”
Singers also experienced a Broadway performance of “On Your Feet! The Musical – The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan,” and saw a Medieval Nights show where knights jousted on horseback and students feasted on baby dragons and dragon’s blood (also known as chicken breast and tomato soup).
“It exceeded all of our expectations. Students earned the highest of honors at our competition, got to see live theatre, faced our fears tilting at 94 stories above ground, got to see another high school choir in Chicago, and got to share our music with people. We packed so much into four days and this was an experience of a lifetime,” said Sadoway.
As students headed home, many were sad to leave Chicago and staying with their friends. Many graduating seniors began to grow wary of the minimal time they have left in the program.
“I truly can’t begin to comprehend at the moment how blessed and lucky I am to go on this tour with this group of incredibly diverse and talented people, sharing what we love and exploring new places. Choir has truly has become a community in which I feel welcomed and safe in,” commented co-choir president Maddy Albright.
“ I really bonded with people that I didn’t think I would and I also got closer to the people that I know. I just want to say that I enjoyed it to the last minute especially singing for other schools in Chicago, and I will take this experience off into college,” said co-choir president Luka Uchiyama.
For some students, having their parent on the trip with them added a new element of fun.
“I was always running around with my group trying to get pictures, and I asked my mom to get pictures of me at my good angle so I can have pics for the ‘gram,’ but she thought I meant for my grandma when I was just talking about Instagram,” said senior Lauren Fung. She also continued to say, “Choir has made me such a more open person, because when you are singing in a choir, especially in a small chamber choir, you really have to open yourself to be more vulnerable and connect with other people on a level that doesn’t really exist within normal conversation.”
Selina Castaneda, a chaperone and choir parent for nearly five years said, “As a chaperone, I was really excited to be a part of this trip going to Chicago, as this was my first time. But to share it with 12 other kids and to see it through their eyes was truly incredible. So it was a trip of a lifetime.”