Choirs from all over California filled Fresno City College’s Old Administration Building for the annual Fall Choral Festival showcasing their vocals on Oct. 30 and 31.
Organized by FCC Choral Director Julie Dana and her choir members, the two day event included 17 high schools, five colleges including FCC and for the first time, nine middle schools and two elementary schools.
“It’s so important to see what you guys are all doing because sometimes we kind of feel like we are confined to our schools, but then you come here and see schools from all over the place,” said Dana. “That’s what’s awesome about this festival is that we come from everywhere and we’re all working together for the good of humanity with our music, so thank you.”
With the festival hosting over 37 choirs, festival judiciator Ryan Holder, had his work cut out for him. As the associate director of choral studies at Northern Arizona University, Holder critiqued each choir performance with helpful intentions.
“I focus on the basic concepts like phrase-shaping and fixing of tone,” he said about critiquing their performances.
Holder also said that he understands this experience may be a first for some of the students.
“I want to try and give them the directory tools to get them to the next level in this safe environment FCC has provided,” Holder said.
For Roosevelt High School choir student Autumn Harguess, the festival gave her and her choir a chance to show off their voices and a new appreciation for music.
“It’s amazing to see how plenty of different kids from different cultures all from around Fresno get together to share their music,” Harguess said. “It really is amazing to me how music can grow to us now having these festivals which are just big celebrations of how much people love music.”
She applauded Dr. Holder on the advice and suggestions on their performance.
“The critiques help us better ourselves for the future so we can see our musical performance in a bigger picture and through a professional point of view,” she said.
FCC choir member Laura Loredo finds personal enjoyment in choral festivals because of the diversity of thought and opinion amongst different choir directors. As she attends her first semester at FCC, Loredo said the transition as a vocalist from high school to college has been constructive.
As she looks back on her own experiences at choral festivals in high school, she comments on the knowledge and wisdom each judicator pours into the choirs.
“When you have the same choral director for a while, their critiques become very repetitive and then you don’t value it too much, but when you come to a festival like this it’s very helpful to see how you’re doing from another persons perspective and how you can improve,” Loredo said.
Firebaugh choir director and former FCC student, Micheal Gutierrez, attended the festival with multiple choirs from both Firebaugh High School and Firebaugh Middle School.
“I love this festival in particular because it’s so relaxed, there’s not much pressure on us to be the absolute best or top notch, it’s more about having fun,” said Gutierrez.
He thanked Holder for his supportive and positive advice, especially because the students walked away feeling motivated and successful.
Samantha Arrellano, FCC choir member and student aide for Julie Dana, said the Fall Choral Festival is for enrichment.
“It isn’t for a prize,” she said. “We come here to share our music and love for one another and give each choir praise for what they are doing because music is hard. As a vocalist myself, it’s hard so we just want to encourage them.”