In addition to providing opportunities for APU music students to sharpen and showcase their own vocal talents, APU choirs host several events each year to benefit up-and-coming vocalists in the area. On Thursday and Friday, February 18–19, Azusa Pacific’s School of Music hosted an Invitational Choral Festival for local high school students.
Students from 22 high schools attended the invitational. Each choir performed three songs before guest clinician Jerry Blackstone, DMA, Grammy Award-winning conductor, director of choirs, and chair of the conducting department at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Blackstone brought both expertise and entertainment to the table with his creative teaching methods.
After each performance, he gave the choirs feedback on what they had done well and areas that needed improvement. The choirs took the constructive criticism well, laughing at Blackstone’s memorable examples and enjoying the exercises to help them with their technique.
“Dr. Blackstone was very engaging and offered great insight on choral concepts that we have been working on in rehearsals,” said Kristi Young, M.A., director of choral music for Calvary Chapel Christian School of Downey. This was her fourth year attending the festival with students from the CCCS Honor Choir “Remembrance.”
“We enjoy attending festivals at college campuses because it allows our students to become acquainted with local colleges and see what the student body is like. Our students have formed very definite opinions about certain colleges simply based off of their experience at the festival and through walking around campus watching the students interact,” Young said.
Members of the university’s various choirs welcomed the high school students, along with their conductors and accompanists, and answered questions about APU’s music program and the university in general. The guests had the opportunity to explore the campus, as well as sit in on the performances of other visiting choirs.
At the close of each festival session, the guests were treated to special performances by APU choirs, including Bel Canto Women’s Choir, Men’s Chorale, Chamber Singers, and University Choir and Orchestra.