Feb 28, 2020
More than 60 choirs across the Central Valley participated in the three-day 2015 Fresno State Choir Invitational held in the Concert Hall, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2015. The festival, which began on Oct. 20, gave choir performers the opportunity to have their performance rated by five guest judges in attendance. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)

Student voices of the Valley

More than 60 choirs from the Central Valley came together to participate and perform in this year’s three-day Fresno State Invitational Choral Festival held at the music hall.

“This festival had been going on for years when I came in the fall of 1999. It has grown to be one of the largest festival of its kind in California,” said Dr. Anna Hamre, director of choral activities.

For the past three days, high schools, community colleges and a small handful of middle school ensembles have been performing for fellow students, friends and family. The first two days were daylong performances that had an average of six sessions with five choirs within each session.

The choirs had the option to get a rating of their performances from five judges. This year’s judges consisted of: Dr. Axel Theimer from Minnesota, Dr. Ron Kean from California; and Fresno State faculty Dr. Tony Mowrer, Dr. Emily Mason and Dr. Anna Hamre.

“The best high school ensembles from one year are invited back to next year’s command performance, which is a huge honor,” said Hamre.

The schools are rated from superior to fair, based on the quality of performance, tone quality, blend, balance, intonation and diction, Hamre said. All choirs that participated receive a plaque with their ranking of participation.

“It’s really fun to get to see all these different choirs come through and see them all perform and be able to know how well their doing,” said Aaron Burdick, vocal performance graduate.

The choirs that do well are put in a pool for the committee to choose which ones should come back the next year and perform alongside other choirs and the Fresno State Concert Choir, Burdick said.

“This festival gives the students a reason to do well. It’s exciting to see the high school I went to be here and perform,” said Vivian Santos, a music education senior.

“I love to see how many students are in these choirs, it shows that it’s not dwindling down and it’s still growing,” Santos added.

The finale of the concert is a performance by the Fresno State Concert Choir, the same students who run the festival.

“The entire festival gets a very high standard for choral music in our area. My favorite part is watching my former students direct their own choirs at this festival,” Hamre said. “I’m so proud of them.”

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