Singing for Success


Illustration by Alexa Druyanoff

Students at the CAIS festival sing six songs, including John Donne’s “At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners” and Javier Busto’s “Esta Tierra.”

Averie Perrin and Ella Yadegar

Several Chamber Singers members participated in the 2022 California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Honor Choir Ensembles at Viewpoint School on Feb. 5. The CAIS festival featured students in grades 8-12 from across the Los Angeles (LA) area who were nominated by their schools’ choral directors.

Participants sang six songs at the festival, including John Donne’s “At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners” and Javier Busto’s “Esta Tierra.” The group also performed “Kyrie,” an original song composed by Performing Arts Teacher Zanaida Robles.

Robles said she was excited to have students participate for the opportunity to improve their musical abilities in a new setting.

“I think it’s important for our students to participate in CAIS for the opportunity to exercise their musicianship skills outside the classroom while making music with students from peer schools,” Robles said. “They serve as musical ambassadors, bringing honor and recognition to our school.”

Chamber Singer Bronwyn Vance ’24 said her favorite part of the CAIS festival was being able to make music and collaborate with people she had never met before.

“I was one of many people selected to be in the choir and learn music over the span of less than two days leading up to a concert on the second day,” Vance said. “Originally, I was nervous to participate because I was scared everyone was going to be better than me, but it turned out to be a fun and rewarding experience.”

Chamber Singer Cayley Tolbert-Schwartz ’24 said she was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the festival.

“It was a great experience even though it was tiring,” Tolbert-Schwartz said. “I would really love to see what it would be like to perform with a choir so amazing in a larger space, with a larger audience and without the impediment of masks.”

Tolbert-Schwartz said the festival showed her the value of teamwork in performances.

“This festival taught me that music has so much to do with community,” Tolbert-Schwartz said. “I felt our sound, our blend and our tone improve as people connected with each other, and began to sing as a single choir rather than 44 individuals.”

Although Chamber Singer Nuzzy Sykes ’24 said he could not attend the festival, he said he was proud of his peer Isaac Tiu ’24 for being chosen as a tenor in the ensemble.

“[Tiu] is a great singer and he deserved to participate in the festival to showcase his talent,” Sykes said.

Robles said she is eager for her students to grow as vocalists and learn new techniques through competing.

“In addition to opportunities to learn music and build friendships, I want students to benefit from working with elite choral clinicians that can guide them to achieve musical excellence,” Robles said.