By: Pascale Montgomery
After grabbing her water bottle and music folder, Carmel High School freshman Savannah Allen makes her way to the music room’s risers for Chamber Choir rehearsal, an auditioned and selective group of the high school’s singers.
This year, Allen had the opportunity to step out of the traditional choral setting to sing a solo with the Monterey Jazz Festival Middle School Honor Jazz Ensemble, consisting of the top middle school jazz musicians in the county. The ensemble performed at the Next Generation Jazz Festival.
“Jazz is sort of new to me,” Allen says. “It opened up my eyes to another musical world.”
Although jazz singing is difficult, Savannah Allen has demonstrated exceptional skill, and music is not an unfamiliar subject to her.
Choir instructor Thomas Lehmkuhl has been teaching Allen since she was in sixth grade. Since then, she has continued to grow as a musician, but arrived with an already advanced skill set.
“I think people have to realize that it is important to have the skills and the capability, but it is also important to be a good human being, and she has both those things,” Lehmkuhl says.
The choir teacher explains that it is not easy to bridge the classical world of music with the world of jazz.
“Often people do not do very well when crossing these boundaries,” Lehmkuhl adds. “This is an indicator of really high musical understanding and intelligence.”
Allen started singing on her own in the second grade and took music at All Saints Elementary. With an impressive range, she can sing alto, but primarily sings soprano. She has been taking private voice lessons for five years.
Not only does Savannah Allen have a wonderful voice, she also has a wonderful work ethic, according to her peers.
“She is very studious, and she is always on top of things,” says fellow freshman singer Isabel Krautstrunk, who has been singing with Allen since the sixth grade. Together, the two have participated in various middle school honor choirs.
Allen will be auditioning for American Choral Directors Association honor choirs and Monterey County’s Honor Vocal Jazz Group this year. In addition to jazz and chorus singing, Allen is also active in musical theater and is currently playing the Minstrel in CHS’s “Spamalot.”
After high school, Savannah Allen is interested in majoring in music, with either an emphasis on musical theater or jazz.