Both Valencia jazz choirs invited to perform at prestigious national festival

The Valencia varsity group, Two ’N’ Four, and junior varsity jazz choir, Soundwaves. Photo courtesy of Cathy Suen.

After submitting their audition tape that would be weighed against 136 other high school choirs around the country, both Valencia High School jazz choirs have been selected to perform at the 2019 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival.

While the Valencia varsity group, Two ’N’ Four, has participated in the festival in past years, it’s rare to see both the school’s varsity and junior varsity jazz choir, Soundwaves, to be selected to perform at the Monterey festival, according to Valencia choir director Christine Tavares-Mocha.

“This is a huge honor for our program and school as eight groups out of the nation were selected, and two come from our school in Santa Clarita,” said Tavares-Mocha. “This has happened a few other times over the (past) 15 years, but it is rare.”

Both groups consist of a mixture of sophomores, juniors and seniors, and according to Tavares-Mocha, these young students must learn vocal skills and music theory for jazz choir that differs from other types of musical categories typically performed at a high school level.

Certain parts of certain songs require students to sing sharp or dissonant chords, and oftentimes a student can be singing their part all alone, Tavares-Mocha said. “And at times to imitate and mimic instruments, like a jazz band.”

In order to be selected to attend the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, the choirs had to put these learned skills into action before a live audience and submit to the judges a 10-minute, unedited audition tape.

“The judges decided that both groups were in the top eight based on musicality, dynamics, artistry, intonation, communication, blend and balance,” the choir director said. “And both groups are scoring at varsity level and I am so proud of these students’ work ethic, grit and musical determination to get better each day.”

And although it is still early in the competition season, Valencia’s two groups are now beginning their “intense preparation of musical phrasing, blocking, dynamics, and putting together each group’s 30-minute performance.”

The two choir groups are scheduled to attend competitions throughout the spring as they prepare for their ramp-up to their individual performances at the 2019 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival occuring April 5-7.

“I am over-the-moon proud of these students,” Tavares-Mocha said, “not only do they work hard to put time and energy into performing musically, but they are great people and a great team that supports one another.”

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