Chamber Choir performs as honor choir at TMEA

The+Canyon+High+School+Chamber+Choir+performs+as+a+TMEA+Honor+Choir+in+San+Antonio.

Courtesy of Brandon Farren

The Canyon High School Chamber Choir performs as a TMEA Honor Choir in San Antonio.

After eight months of daily rehearsals, community performances and Monday night practices, more than 70 voices combined to serenade an audience of 3,000 people. 

The Canyon High School Chamber Choir performed at the Texas Music Educators Association convention Thursday, Feb. 13 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. The choir performed five songs by a variety of composers for a concert lasting 25 minutes. 

“There were only two mixed choirs selected out of 167 choirs in Texas,” head choir director Brandon Farren said. “So for Canyon High to be selected as one of two choirs in the entire state of Texas–it’s a huge honor. Lots of pressure and a lot of fun. This is our third state title–our third TMEA performance.”

High school kids are unbelievably successful and can do so much more than I think people give them credit for.

— Brandon Farren, choir director

Farren said students deepened their musical abilities, pushed themselves to achieve more than they expected and changed the lives of others through their performances. 

“High school kids are unbelievably successful and can do so much more than I think people give them credit for,” Farren said. “All the concerts that we did before we left and the concert we had while we were there–each time that we get to do that, we get to affect people in so many different ways and show them how valuable music is in public schools and music is in our personal lives.”

Assistant choir director Reese Kingcade said working with one another for a common goal was a special experience for the students.

“You start from day one with the same pieces, so you get to spend so much time really digging into the specifics of this music,” Kingcade said. “It really brought the group together so quickly around this shared goal, from the beginning of the year all the way through the experience.”

It was such a pleasure to finally share this music at TMEA.”

— Mark Porter, 12

The choir performed “Gaude Et Laetare” by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and arranged by James Rodde, “Shestopsalmiye Op. 37 No. 7” (“The Six Psalms”) by Sergei Rachmaninoff, “What Stood Will Stand” by Paul Halley, “Shall We Gather at the River” arranged by Daniel J. Hall for the Chamber Choir, and “Ansanm, Ansanm” by Sydney Guillaume.

“TMEA this year was amazing,” said senior Mark Porter, an All-State Choir member. “My favorite song was the Rachmaninoff piece. There’s a massive chord in the middle of the song that’s supposed to resemble church bells ringing–it’s my favorite part. It was such a pleasure to finally share this music at TMEA.”

Sophomore Kennedy Pernell said the experience helped her improve as a singer. 

“I had no idea about so many things,” Pernell said. “You can sing the notes and rhythms right, and you can sing it prettily, but then there’s all these small things that Mr. Farren has taught me that to an outsider’s ear would make no sense. Like these little metaphors and whenever you start to picture those things, you can really start to improve your singing techniques.”

Whenever you sing that piece, it feels like your piece because you’ve cultivated it.”

— Kennedy Pernell, 10

Pernell said she regarded the music with mixed feelings.

“You work on the same music for like eight months,” Pernell said. “At first you love it, and then you hate it, and then you love it, and then a few days before you just really start to hate it again, but then you go and perform it and it’s 25 minutes for eight months that you’ve been working on it.”

The effort devoted to the pieces creates a personal attachment to the music, Pernell said.

“Whenever you work on a program like that with so many people, and you as the students put your ideas into this music–not just the directors–it brings everyone closer together,” Pernell said. “Whenever you sing that piece, it feels like your piece because you’ve cultivated it.”