HomeEditors' PicksCarmel High’s top choir students pursue singing in the spotlight

Carmel High’s top choir students pursue singing in the spotlight

Published May 8, 2024

BY SARA EYJOLFSDOTTIR

From singing in the All-State Honor Choir to releasing their own songs on popular music streaming services, Carmel High School’s most talented vocalists pursue choir both inside and outside of the classroom, with many hoping to continue singing in some capacity after graduation.

The CHS choir program consists of a wide range of classes for various skill levels and vocal ranges, including Chamber Singers and Concert Choir, all with the aim of preparing students for wherever they wish to take their singing careers. The most dedicated and talented vocalists in the program are given the support and training necessary to continue their passions for singing outside of school, whether this takes the form of various honor choirs open for auditions or local vocal ensembles.

Beyond the choir classroom, senior Alexis Pine has taken her passion for singing to the next level, from performances at the CHS Band Show to releasing her own songs. (photo by JENNA CRAWFORD)

One of the choir program’s leading vocalists, senior Alexis Pine has had her fair share of the spotlight both within choir classes and outside ventures, according to CHS choir teacher Thomas Lehmkuhl. Beyond being a part of CCS, Regional and All-State Honor Choir for both her junior and senior years at CHS, Pine has also been able to expand her passion for singing by writing her own songs, two of which have been released on Spotify.

“Whether by joining a small ensemble on campus, or just performing at open mics in my city, I’m determined to keep pursuing music in some capacity,” says the CHS music student council secretary, who sang for the Monterey Jazz Festival vocal ensemble in her junior year.

Pine knows that she will be keeping singing as a fixture of her lifestyle, even after her college career, and hopes to always remain in a choir throughout her life.

Also looking to continue his passion for singing after graduation is senior Riley Mabry, a talented member of the CHS tenor and bass choir who was recently admitted to Bard College as a performing arts scholar, a scholarship providing him with the opportunity to pursue a major in either music or theater. The seven-year choir member will most likely be majoring in music composition with the eventual goal of writing music for a choir.

“Every year I learn something new,” says the frequent participant in state and regional honor choirs, “not only about singing but about music in general and group dynamics.”

Taking his talent in choir to the next level, Mabry directs rehearsals for the tenor and bass vocalists who are unable to be in the first period class. Similarly, senior Tristen Harris is a talented singer who has been able to take on a leadership role within the choir as the president of the concert choir.

Seniors Alyssa Galicia and Alexis Pine (from left) both performed with the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Star Vocal Ensemble last April. (courtesy of MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL)

“This comes with the responsibility of leading warmups, running through songs when Lehmkuhl is unable, overall just making sure everything is going smoothly throughout the class periods,” says Harris, a recipient of Anaheim Heritage Music Festival’s maestro award, an honor given to 12 students among the participating schools.

Having auditioned and participated in numerous honor choirs, senior Alyssa Galicia is another recurring member of honor choirs across California who has also taken her love for singing outside of the classroom through her participation in a number of other choir gigs such as for the 2023 AIM Youth Mental Health Gala and caroling at CHOMP.

“In college, I hope to join choir as either an extracurricular activity or a club of some sort,” Galicia says. “What I do know for certain is that I will keep choir in my life!”

Carmel High School’s choir talent is in no way limited to seniors, with a number of juniors and underclassmen proving to be promising singers. Junior Fiona Heilig, a second alto in the treble choir, is a rising star in the choir program. 

“Singing has become such a big part of my identity,” says Heilig, who began choir in fourth grade. “I can’t even imagine not being involved in choir.”

The music student council member pursues her love for choir outside of the classroom both through her frequent participation in honor choirs and independent ventures including the vocal covers she posts on Instagram in order to practice and keep her voice at its full potential for choir practices and performances.

Just like Heilig who hopes to join a choir after graduation, Harris will likely be continuing her choir career at California State University Long Beach where she had already met with the directors of the university choir program. The chamber chorister recognizes the skills that the music program has brought her, from sight reading to even just patience, and would love to continue growing as a vocalist and a person through choir.

“I keep going because I find so much joy in singing and in music in general,” Pine says. “Singing is one of the things that keeps me sane, so having it a part of my day brings me so much.”

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