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Recap: FC Choirs win big at Heritage Festival


Bellezza awarded Outstanding Choir title

Last Thursday, March 30, the campus choirs, jazz band and Bellezza left on a four-day adventure to Anaheim for the Worldstrides Heritage Festival at Fullerton College. Early Thursday morning they embarked on their trip, headed for Southern California.

[/media-credit] Bellezza Ensembles shows off the awards the FC music department won.

Along the way, the group stopped at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure for an eventful dinner and show. Subsequently, they went to their hotel and awaited their soon to be full day in Disneyland. Saturday was performance day, and the ensemble performed first followed by the choir for a panel of three judges.

For the festival, Fresno Christian was in the A1 category because the high school enrollment is under 600 students. There were 37 schools at the event, 24 of them were from 3A schools with enrollments of 1,200 or higher.

Second-year choir member, Jason Olson, ‘20, thought of the trip as a bonding experience. He enjoyed the experience at Disneyland as well as winning one of the most prestigious awards at the Festival.

“My favorite part was going to Disneyland and hanging out with my ‘family,’” Olson said. “It felt amazing to win the top score. When we won the award, everyone started clapping and yelling and then everyone in the crowd starting cheering for us too. The part I enjoyed the most was being able to hang out and bond with all my other friends in choir and getting to know them better.

“I do plan to join choir again next year,” Olson continued. “The adjudicators didn’t tell us much to change because it was so good, but he did tell us that we should work on our tone and that’s about it. He also complimented us on how good are vowels were.”

There are many new members to the choir and ensemble groups this year. One of those new members is sophomore Alina Davila. She joined choir because she loves singing and never had the opportunity to at her old school, Caruthers.  

“The two most exciting parts of the trip were singing and creating a small family with my fellow choir students,” Davila said. “Winning the biggest award was incredible! When we won, everyone in the crowd cheered for us because the one big school that kept winning everything didn’t win and because we were such a little school. I enjoyed going to Disneyland and getting closer to people I never thought I would have a relationship with. From the adjudicators, I now know to stand up very straight, relax and smile.”

[/media-credit] The JH Choir took the stage first to be judged.

A few members have been a part of choir for quite a while. Celeste Counts, ‘18, participated in choir when she was in junior high and joined ensemble as a freshman and has participated in it ever since. She hopes to take part in both choir and ensemble next year.  

“The most exciting part of this trip was definitely at the awards ceremony when they called Bellezza for the most outstanding choir award,” Counts said. “Hannah Nale and I cried out of happiness while the whole crowd gave us a standing ovation. I enjoyed going to Disneyland the most. The dinner at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure was also a highlight of the trip. I am planning on joining ensemble next year, but I am also thinking about joining choir. While being judged, the adjudicators only had one suggestion, and that was to improve our posture.”

After each of FC’s music groups performed their songs to the judges, all choirs returned to Disneyland for awards in the Fantasyland Theatre. The awards ceremony started with a live show of singers and dancers to excite the crowd. 

Each choir or band was awarded a plaque with their rating, Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Also, rankings were named if the group had more than one school in their category. Since FC is a 1A school, 2A or 3A schools did not compete against us.

Junior High soprano, Naty Tewodros, ‘22, was selected for her solo in ‘Elijah,’ for an individual award, called a Maestro Award. Tewodros was one of 12 in the competition to receive this prestigious award.

Singing is a passion for many. Zack Passmore, ‘17, enjoys singing in choir and plans to continue when he goes to college. Passmore has been a part of FC choir for three years. 

“The most exciting part of the heritage trip was able to spend all day in Disneyland,” Passmore said. “When we won our awards, our section of the crowd was going crazy, and that was exciting. My favorite part was receiving the gold award since we worked hard all year for it. The adjudicators told us to make sure to emphasize the words the song, not just every other word. I plan to sing in college for Fresno Pacific University.

[/media-credit] The Bellezza Ensemble took away the Outstanding Choir award for earning the highest score of 95 out of 100 in the competition.

The next award was the Adjudicator’s Award, given to choirs and bands with a score of 95 or higher (out of 100.) Only nine groups received this award, including FC women’s ensemble, Bellezza.

Choir and ensemble director, Susan Ainley shares her opinion on winning many awards.

“The most exciting moment of the night was when the Outstanding Choir award was announced,” Ainley said. “Even though Woods Cross High School won every major category in the competition, the overall highest score of the entire festival, including 37 choirs and 14 bands, was given to Bellezza, with a score of 98!”

One of the adjudicators during his judging podcast for Bellezza, Mike Rose, commented, “Goodness gracious so many devices, very impressive. Just for the record, you should not compete in the 1A division; you should tell them to put you in the 3A division, and compete with the Big Boys.”

Both the Bellezza ensemble and choir received an invitation to travel to New York and sing at Carnegie Hall next year. 

The author can be reached via email: Braden Bell, Instagram and Twitter.

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