SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - December 2010


Message from the President - Rodger Guerrero
By the time this message is published, two fantastic SCVA-sponsored events, the Fall In-Service and High School Honor Choirs will have already taken place.  Both events were meaningful, highly successful, and well-received.  The Fall In-Service was the finest and most valuable I have attended in ten years.  Christine Tavares' Improvisation Techniques for the Choral Classroom presentation was creative, incredibly valuable and brilliantly presented.  Dr. Andrew Crane's ideas about What Matters Most in the Choral Profession and The Choral Director as Voice Teacher were compelling and applicable.  And boy does his choir at Cal State San Bernardino sing beautifully!  Linda Nason's Bernardo Yorba Middle School Vocal Ensemble and Ken Tuttle's Redlands High School Chamber Singers both performed wonderfully and helped a new group of prospective SCVA Festival adjudicators "pass the test."  Jennifer Stanley regaled us with hysterical stories from SCVA past and amazed us with actual programs and other documents from SCVA's first ever choral festival.  Finally, Greg Ellis and Ron Soderwald conducted us through a sample of new pieces which have recently been added to the SCVA Suggested Repertoire Lists (check them out today at  All in all, Past President Sheri Nelson did a fantastic job in setting up the series of workshops, and Past President Mark Henson and Secretary/Newsletter Editor Karen Bluel were the perfect hosts!

The Southern California High School Honor Choirs weekend at Santa Monica H.S. is SCVA's largest, most attended, and perhaps most singularly spectacular event. Some 270 high school vocalists representing over 80 high schools perform in three awesome choirs. The venue is the best high school auditorium around. The singers are talented, musical, vibrant, and spectacularly well-prepared.  The atmosphere is raucous, almost as wild as a rock concert!  The music-making is first-rate, and the singers' experiences are life-altering.  There is not a dry eye in the house after the Men's and Women's Choirs sing, and the Mixed Choir always seems to bring the audience off of its collective feet.  Tammi Alderman and John Hendricks have perhaps the toughest, most complex job on the SCVA Board.  Nobody does it better.

Both the Fall In-Service and High School Honor Choirs emanate from SCVA's core philosophy: the advancement of vocal music at all grade levels in the schools of Southern California. SCVA accomplishes its objective by: 1. Defining standards of effective vocal music education; 2. Promoting projects and activities which encourage and further choral music education at all grade levels; 3. Supporting appropriate legislation at all levels of government which affect vocal music education; 4. Communicating accomplishments of these objectives to the profession and public through various media.

Fine professional music organizations abound in our part of the state.  However, only SCVA sponsors activities which are designed to address the specific needs of Southern California schools.  At a time when funding is floundering, scheduling is problematic, and choral music programs are diminishing, it is imperative that SCVA continue to augment its advocacy of the choral art both by word and by example.  Times are hard for choral directors, indeed, but SCVA is here to lend a helping hand.

If you have not renewed your membership, do so today (!  If you missed the Fall In-Service and High School Honor Choirs, try one of these events on for size: Vocal Solo Competition, Diva Day, Young Men's Harmony Festival, Jazz Festival, Show Choir Festival, Junior High Honor Choir, or one of the myriad of SCVA High School Choral Festivals.  Most importantly, be an active SCVA member for the betterment of your students.  They are the "you" of tomorrow. SCVA will still be here to specifically serve them too.


VOCAL SOLO COMPETITION - WE ARE ON OUR WAY  - Dr. Rich Brunner, VP Vocal Solo Competition
Please look over the following information and note what has changed.  It is the hope of the Board that these changes will broaden our understanding of the solo voice, help foster a more inclusive and supportive atmosphere, and encourage those students who, in the past, have viewed this competition as exclusive and unapproachable.


Please use the online application and note the following:
 - Auditionees must be available for all REQUIRED dates.
 - Participation is open to students in Jr. High/Middle School (grades 6-8) and High School (grades 9-12).
 - Auditionees must be ACTIVE MEMBERS of a school choral program.  REMEMBER: our goal is not only to support and encourage fine, young singers, but also to enhance the quality of our choral programs through solo vocal education.  Chorus membership must be confirmed by the choral director.
 - There is a non-refundable application fee of $20.
 - Applications must be accompanied by a school check or money order payable to SCVA, or a SCVA e-Payment receipt.  NO PERSONAL CHECKS or CASH.
 - Directors must be current members of SCVA.


Northern Practice Site: Oakwood School
                                 11600 Magnolia Blvd.
                                 North Hollywood, CA 91601
                                 Site Host: Dr. Rich Brunner

Southern Practice Site: St. Mark Presbyterian Church
 2200 San Joaquin Hills Road
 Newport Beach, CA
 Site Host: Richard Messenger (for directions)

This is something new.  AND it is NOT MANDATORY!  However, it seems that a great number of students might benefit from having a chance to work through their pieces in front of an audience of other singers and get some preparatory suggestions from a voice teacher or coach.  This will help ensure that students don't have to perform for the first time at the Preliminary Auditions.  And though it is encouraged that you bring your own accompanist, there will be one on hand to help out, if needed.


Sites:              Bell Gardens High School: CLOSED
Fullerton Union High School: CLOSED
Matilija Jr. High School, Ojai
Oakwood School, North Hollywood
Redlands High School, Redlands
San Diego School of Performing Arts, San Diego
Valencia High School, Valencia
Walnut High School, Walnut

The following regulations are still in place, with a few changes and enhancements:

 - Each auditionee will sing a classical art song or aria.
 - Selections should be appropriate to the singer's age and experience level.
 - NOTE: Teachers should be very careful about choosing repertoire.  We are not looking to hear Verdi or Wagner arias by 15 year olds.  There is a master class component, so LESS IS MORE – no five-minute arias, please!  We are looking for fine singers with solid technique, not pyrotechnics or hysterical over-singing.
 - Each auditionee should provide a skilled accompanist.  If a singer has no access to an accompanist or needs some guidance in finding one, please contact me and we will try and work something out.  If needed, we will try and have someone available to play at each site.
 - Each auditionee must stay for the entire day of auditions.  NO EXCEPTIONS.
 - One or two Jr. High/Middle School students, and between 2 and 3 High School students from each site may be chosen to participate in the Final Concert Performance.


On March 19th, all of the students chosen to move on from the preliminary rounds will present a concert of their songs and arias.  During the concert-style performance, each student will be adjudicated.  While the scores are being tabulated to award the one Jr. High/Middle School winner and the six High School winners, some promising young college singers will delight us with their vocal acumen.  The evening will end with the awards ceremony and a short reception.

Any questions, thoughts or comments please contact Dr. Rich Brunner, VP Vocal Solo Competition at


Junior High Honor Choir – Vanessa Ventre, VP – Junior High Honor Choir
Dear Colleagues, Students, and Parents,

The Southern California Vocal Association (SCVA) has been hosting the Junior High Honor Choir for a number of years.  Membership in this prestigious choir is open to students who are enrolled in their school choir and are currently in 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th grade.   High school BOYS in 9th grade are especially needed for a solid bass/baritone section.  As its name implies, this is an HONOR CHOIR and we are looking for the best and brightest singers in Southern California who are responsible and dedicated.

I am pleased to announce that the director for this year's Junior High Honor Choir is Mr. Lou De La Rosa, Director of Choral and Vocal activities at West Valley College.  Mr. De La Rosa has been a guest conductor for CMEA and we are fortunate to have him conduct this year's SCVA Junior High Honor Choir!  This is going to be a wonderful experience for your students and I hope that you'll encourage ALL of your best singers to audition for this year's Honor Choir.

Membership in the Junior High Honor Choir is based on a successful audition.  Singers must be able to demonstrate that they can perform the following:

1. Sing a major scale up and down (a cappella)
2. Sing a major triad and a minor triad (a cappella)
3. Sing an octave (a cappella)
4. Sight read one melodic and one rhythmic example
5. Sing tonal memory patterns
6. Sing "America" / "My Country ‘Tis of Thee" (a cappella)

You will need to go onto the website to fill out the Honor Choir application and register for an audition day and time.  There is a $5 audition fee.  The easiest way to pay is using PayPal, through our website, but you can also pay with a school booster check or money order.  NO personal checks will be accepted!

Registration and payment must be completed and received by January 7th.  The web application will close itself automatically, so please make sure you register early.  Audition assignments (location and times) will be posted on the website by January 14th.


Lincoln Middle School-Santa Monica
Arlington High School-Riverside
Bernardo Yorba Middle School-Yorba Linda
Manhattan Beach Middle School-Manhattan Beach

Mesa Robles Middle School-Hacienda Heights
McFadden Intermediate School-Santa Ana

*If you are interested in helping to adjudicate please contact me ASAP!!

Results will be posted on the SCVA website by FEBRUARY 18.  Please note that there will be a Participation Fee to help pay for your music, the conductor, accompanist, and other expenses.

PARENTS:  We have made every attempt to make the Honor Choir rehearsals as "driver friendly" as possible.  This year there will be only TWO rehearsals and one of them should be close to your area.  We depend on your commitment to these two rehearsals so that we are able to have a successful performance.

Students who do not attend one of the regional rehearsals will be removed from the Honor Choir.

REGIONAL REHEARSAL (attend ONE near you)
 - March 19 @ John Adams MS from 9:00 AM to NOON (2425 16th St., Santa Monica 90405)
 - March 26 @ Mesa Robles MS from 9:00 AM to NOON (16060 Mesa Robles Dr., Hacienda Heights 91745)

You MUST also attend the all-day rehearsal on APRIL 30th.  The sessions will be from 9:00 – Noon and from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.  The Honor Choir Concert is at 7pm that evening.  Both the all-day rehearsal and performance will be held at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica. Students will be asked to bring a sack lunch from home that day.  SCVA will host dinner and snacks for the singers.

STUDENTS:  If chosen for the SCVA Junior High Honor Choir, I agree to:
1. Attend and be on time for ONE Regional Rehearsal
2. Attend and be on time for the April 30th Rehearsal with Mr. De La Rosa
3. Be fully prepared with my music MEMORIZED for the April 30th rehearsal
4. Be polite and respectful toward everyone associated with the Honor Choir

If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Vanessa Ventre: / 310-393-9227 ext 73156


Jennifer Stanley, VP of High School Festivals, and Maria Fritts, VP of Middle School/Junior High Festivals

WHY ATTEND A CHORAL FESTIVAL?  As music educators, we are in a very unique position for assessment because of festivals.  No other discipline allows teachers to have their students assessed by experts in their field and receive instant feedback.  Choral directors who attend festivals have positive experiences with adjudicators who understand their teaching situations, and the adjudicators actively work to reinforce their teaching.  Attending festivals is an excellent way to expose your students to great choral literature, and for them to see other students working on the same choral concepts you are teaching.  Since it is a positive experience for everyone involved, make sure that you attend a choral festival this year!  Many thanks to our volunteer festival hosts for hosting 48 SCVA festivals in 2011!

APPLY EARLY FOR MOST FESTIVAL AVAILABILITY. Festival availability is updated in real time. As soon as a festival is full, it will be closed on the website.  Each choir is limited to one festival per season; please do not bring more than two choirs to one festival. The registration deadline is March 1, 2011, and late registrations will not be accepted.  Please check your school's testing schedule and spring break when scheduling your festival.  Please note the location of your festival so you can begin planning for transportation.  We can't process your registration unless you are a current member of SCVA; if your membership is not current, please purchase it online or add $35 to your check amount.

YOUR FESTIVAL REGISTRATION WILL NOT BE COMPLETED UNTIL PAYMENT IS RECEIVED. When you apply online, you will receive an email confirming your initial registration.  This email will include the amount due ($75 for MS/JHS and HS choirs) and you can use this email as an invoice to request a school check.  A faster way to guarantee your registration is to use PayPal on the SCVA website. IF PAYMENT IS NOT RECEIVED WITHIN 30 DAYS OF YOUR INITIAL REGISTRATION, YOUR REGISTRATION WILL BE CANCELLED.

Click here to view all of the Festivals.

For more information, contact Maria Fritts at or (951) 926-6776; contact Jennifer Stanley at or (626) 258-5292.

 - Festival Schedule
 - Online Festival Registration Form
 - PayPal system for online payment of festival fees and membership dues
 - Festival Adjudication Form
 - Adjudication Scoring Scale
 - Festival Code of Conduct
 - Festival Listening Guide
 - Festival Host Guide
 - A History of SCVA Festivals
 - List of Recommended Choral Literature (with new literature added this year!)
 - Festival Music Suggestion Form (for additions to List of Recommended Choral Literature)


Young Women's and Young Men's Harmony Festivals - Mark Freedkin, VP - Barbershop Harmony Festivals
This year's Barbershop Harmony Festivals for Young Women and Young Men are filling up, but we can still accommodate additional singers who wish to participate.  Both events will be held at the Robert B. Moore Theater on the campus of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.  The 6th annual "Diva Day" Young Women in Harmony Festival, sponsored by the Harborlites Chorus, will be held on Saturday, February 5, and the 11th annual "Young Men's Harmony Festival" will be held on Saturday, February 12, sponsored by the Masters of Harmony.  Both of these events will provide a unique musical opportunity for your singers and will provide a positive boost to your choral music program.

Each event will consist of morning and afternoon clinics and rehearsals, followed by a public performance in the evening with the respective adult choruses.  There will also be a clinic for music educators who would like to participate in a hands-on demonstration of how the barbershop style is taught and how it can be used to attract more young men and women into your program.

Although the early-registration deadline has passed, the application fee is still only $25 per singer.  The sponsoring choruses will cover the remaining costs for all sheet music, practice CDs, rehearsal facilities, guest clinicians and performance costumes. Each singer will receive a commemorative t-shirt. We will also provide lunch and dinner for the singers, choral directors and any adult chaperones accompanying the singers.

Please download and print the appropriate application forms from the SCVA website. Complete and return the applications and forms, along with payment by cash, check or money order payable to Harborlites (for Diva Day) or Masters of Harmony (for the Young Men's Festival).  Each event will be limited to a maximum of 250 participants, so be sure to submit your applications early.  Note that these festivals are separate events, and you must send the appropriate forms and payments to the proper recipient.

Young Women's Festival Only:
In order to accommodate more schools, we are limiting the number of singers per school to twelve (12). Ideally we suggest 1-2 tenors, 3-4 leads, 2-3 baritones, and 3-4 basses. This will allow you to perform the music as a group and use this group to help your other students learn the joy of singing four-part harmony, barbershop style. Send applications for all students you wish to participate, indicating those students beyond the initial 12 that you wish to put on the Waiting List. We will try to accommodate as many as we can.

Young Men's Festival Only:
There is no limit to the number of singers from your school who wish to participate, but please submit your applications early to ensure that all of your singers can be accommodated. We also request that you select your better singers to help maximize the musical quality of the event.

We look forward to receiving your applications. Please contact us if you have any questions about our festivals.

"Diva Day" (Young Women's Festival)     Young Men's Harmony Festival
Karen Ridout                                              Mark Freedkin
Harborlites Chorus                                      Masters of Harmony
Home: (714) 847-0787                                Home: (949) 559-9621
Cell: (714) 319-2325                                   Cell: (714) 357-1187
E-mail:                                  E-mail:


SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival – Christine Tavares, VP – Jazz Choirs
Tuesday March 8th, 2011
Include your students in an incredible day of learning and growth in Jazz!

With Guest Artists from Audio Radiance
South Western Community College
Jason Smith, Director

You may choose to have your performance scored (Superior, Excellent, Good). Note: This festival is not a ranked/placement festival. It is adjudicated on the same basis as all SCVA festivals.

At 7pm, Audio Radiance will close the evening with their performance! This will be a great gathering of vocal jazz students and teachers throughout Southern California.  For those participating in competitions later in the school semester, students will also get great exposure and coaching from our very experienced clinicians. Applications are being accepted now, space is limited so do not delay! If you have any questions please email me at  Please put this date on your calendar!!!  The festival is open to all levels, novice through advanced.  The fee is only $150.

Location:       Valencia High School, 27801 N.  Dickason Dr. Valencia, Ca. 91355
Time:             1:30pm – 6:30pm with concert beginning at 7pm (may change slightly based on the number of groups attending)
Equipment:    16 microphones   Provided:  Piano, Bass Amp
Cost:             $150 per group: Includes evening concert with Audio Radiance!

Application Deadline: February 11, 2011
Application is now available on the SCVA website.


Each quote on the left is directly across from its source and author on the right.

"You have sensed, as I have, the evident need of such an organization [as SCVA], where instructors in the vocal field may meet…for round table discussions and demonstrations of practical problems concerning…the choir."

Ralph Peterson founded SCVA in 1939, and served as the first president 1939-41.  Excerpt from letter inviting choral directors to the first meeting of the new SCVA.  He was choral director at LA City College (1935-65).

"We have music on our side to inspire and guide us.  The approach must be to focus on the students…with the music acting as a help them develop a sense of fulfillment and importance."

Howard Swan's opening comments as conductor of the 1978 SCVA Honor Choir. He was discussing the challenges faced by the Occidental College Music Dept during WWII, and ways these experiences could assist music teachers after Prop 13.

"California is known to have had music in the schools as far back as 1849.  [In] 1920, the State Board called a meeting of the leading music teachers… ‘Standards' and ‘efficiency' were the chief concerns of educators…Note reading and the curing of monotones were the leading topics at the meetings."

Halstead McCormac, SCVA President (1949-53).  His master's thesis A History of the Southern California Vocal Association and its Choral Festivals was completed at USC in 1963.  Mr. McCormac was director of choral and instrumental music at San Gabriel HS.

"…Education in general, and we as choral directors in particular, are in the throes of difficult and negatively charged times...This is not the first crisis to arise in education… I am convinced that life is structured in such a way that both positive and negative experiences are necessary to provide the sense of ongoing purpose and vitality that we all seek."

Donnelly M. Fenn, SCVA President (1978-80), SCVA Newsletter, April 1979. Mr. Fenn was choral director at West HS in Torrance (1962-84). This excerpt is from his President's column discussing the effects of Prop 13 on school choral programs.

"...the music educator is concerned with the world of inner space: the development of man's resources within himself, the enlargement of his aesthetic and spiritual nature, and the release of his creative and imaginative powers."

Jane Skinner (Hardester)'s master's thesis A Suggested Vocal Music Program for High Schools with Special Reference to El Monte High School, USC, 1959.  Jane Skinner served on the SCVA board while she was choral director at El Monte HS in the 1950s.  She then became choral director at El Camino College.

"Never in the history of school music have music educators faced more serious problems, or been blessed with richer opportunities than at the present time."

Dr. Louis Woodson Curtis, Director of Music, Los Angeles City Schools. Article in the April 1943 SCVA newsletter encouraging choral directors to pursue alternatives to SCVA choral festivals which were cancelled due to WWII restrictions on travel and electricity use.  The first SCVA meeting was held in Dr. Curtis' office on December 17, 1938. He also served as MENC President, 1938-40.

"We hope you will not conduct a chorus unless you cannot be happy without it.  It is one of the most soul-satisfying, exasperating, exhilarating, discour-aging, thrilling experiences that a musician who loves choral music and students can have."

Max T. Krone, The Chorus and Its Conductor. Dr. Krone was music professor and Dean of Fine Arts at USC (1939-68). He adjudicated the first SCVA festival in April 1940 at Occidental College; the other adjudicators were Howard Swan and Mae Nightingale.

SCVA has overcome many challenges in its 71 year history, and I hope you see connections between
these challenges of the past and those of the present. The network of support provided by SCVA helps
us to find encouragement and wisdom from our past and present members.  JS


Other Important Information
On-Line SCVA Membership Application
California All-State Music Education Conference
Calendar of Events