“We’ve never gotten first place before, this is our first time out of 15 years,” Choir Director Christine Tavares-Mocha said.
Each year Valencia High School applies to enter the competition, which takes submissions from public and private middle schools, high schools and colleges. Winners from the competition get a chance to perform with professional artists on stage at the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
“Schools from around the U.S. apply to get in and they choose eight top schools around the country,” Tavares-Mocha said. “This group has gotten in since 2005, but we haven’t always placed. Usually they tend to get fourth or third. Over the last four years they’ve gotten second so we’ve gotten to perform at the showcase, but this is the first time ever that we’ve made it this far.”
As the first place winner, the Valencia High School Choir will receive a stipend and be the opening act for this year’s Monterey Jazz Festival in September.
“We are a public school and we beat groups with huge theater programs or county high school performing arts programs,” Tavares-Mocha said.
During their 28-minute stet, the students sang a total of five songs and finished with a standing ovation from the audience.
“We were the only standing ovation of the day,” Tavares-Mocha said. “That’s what for go for as a group. I tell the students all the time no matter how you score what matters is what the audience thought. You need to learn how to put on a good show if you want to be a performer.”
The standing ovation was enough of a success for the students. But, when they found out they won first place in their division, they were astonished and overwhelmed.
“Some of my students have been trying for four years and this has never happened. Some of them were stunned. Others actually cried because people came up to them and said, ‘Out of 30 years you moved me’ and they started crying,” Tavares-Mocha said. “I remember right after we were done one of them said this is what it’s all about, this is why perform. We don’t perform for the trophy, we perform to inspire others and to inspire ourselves to strive and work harder.”
For Tavares-Mocha, the best part of the competition was watching her students interact with other performers from around the country, develop new friendships and grow as human beings.
“The awesome thing about watching these students grow is knowing that it doesn’t end at the end of the year. This group ends, but they go on and continue to inspire others and that’s what music is all about is giving light to everybody and inviting them into performing,” Tavares-Mocha said. “I’m lucky to teach these kids.”
Valencia High School Vocalists:
- Henry Anderson
- Justina Lee
- Sophia Bellefeuille
- Alexia Vincent
- James Evans
- Matthew Ahn
- Yonghee Shin
- Jaden Lewis
- Therese Masangcay
- Calvin Kim
- Zachary Miranda
- Kenneth Borchart
- Kelley Fredriksen
- Danna Dumandan
- Clay (Elias) Riche
- Chris Gilbert
- Madison Miller
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_