Sing out with glee! La Jolla after-school choral groups showcase talent, passion and acceptance

Members of the La Jolla Country Day Glee Club perform at a competition in Anaheim last spring. Courtesy
Members of the La Jolla Country Day Glee Club perform at a competition in Anaheim last spring. Courtesy

By Ashley Mackin

Recent research suggests physiological changes occur when young people sing together, reports Louise Carmon, Bishop’s Upper School Choral Music Director. “There is a gene in the brain that clicks on ... their hearts synchronize.”

Carmon is the director of the Bishop’s Singers, an advanced, auditioned group that performs in and out of school.

“Kids love to be a part of something, and singing together is like being in a club or team ... they create something beautiful together,” she said.

The Bishop’s School has several choirs that have spawned singing clubs, and while none have the “glee” name, they serve as an outlet for those bitten by the music bug.

Anna Shuster, a Bishop’s senior, is a part of the a cappella club. For her, singing clubs provide a social element where students with similar interests can come together and do what they are passionate about.

Referring to the art requirement imposed on all students, she said, “When I started at Bishop’s, I thought, how am I going to do this? I don’t do art. But I had a lot of friends, and they all sang, and I went to their concerts and they all seemed to be having a good time and they sounded incredible. So I thought I’d give it a shot and I completely fell in love with it.”

Halfway through her sophomore year, Shuster started the a cappella club. “I knew I didn’t have time to participate in choir, but I like to sing,” she said.

And she’s not the only one. The a cappella club boasts a varsity cross-country runner, a Chapel Council member and an Academic League member, so there’s a lot of student diversity.

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Members of the La Jolla Country Day Glee Club perform at a competition in Anaheim last spring. Courtesy

The story is similar at La Jolla Country Day School (LJCDS). Junior Brendon Grepo said being a part of the glee club — which they call the show choir — is just as much a social experience as it is a chance to sing.

“At first, I questioned doing the whole thing, I wasn’t sure if I would like it,” he said. “But immediately after joining and going to practices, the people were so nice and we just had the best time. I’ve made tons of friends from being in glee club.”

LJCDS show choir director Carrie Dietsch also noticed diversity among the students who want to be a part of the glee club. She said it’s not uncommon for a football player to run off the field to sing the National Anthem with the show choir before a game.

She helped establish the show choir at LJCDS, and said there was interest right away. “When we held our first audition, we were shocked to see 30 kids lined up, and that’s the smallest number of kids we’ve had come to audition. It seems to get bigger every year,” Dietsch said.

She credits the television show, “Glee,” with stirring up interest. “Students had never heard of glee clubs until the show came out,” she said. Though she claims the show simplifies the rehearsal process, “It does highlight the one thing that’s important — glee clubs and after-school performing ensembles can become a family,” Dietsch said.

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