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Choir reaches high note at competition

Valencia High women score 99 out of 100 points.

Posted: May 16, 2008 2:22 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.
If choir competitors could be judged the same as their peers in sports, then the Valencia High School Women's Choir just scored a touchdown, a home run and the last-second winning basket at a meet last weekend near San Francisco.

The 40-strong Women's Chamber Ensemble competed in the Santa Clara Music In The Parks competition against two dozen choirs from other California schools, in front of an estimated 2,500 people, scoring an unprecedented 99 out of 100.

Choir members dubbed themselves The Dona Bellas after their win.

They won four top prizes including the coveted Esprit de Corps award for character.

"I am extremely proud of them, it could not have been better," said choir teacher Christine Enns of Valencia High School.

"When we received the awards, the music started playing and then all the girls were crying," she said Tuesday. "It was a very moving moment. The girls were overwhelmed."

The Valencia High School Women's Chamber Ensemble includes: Veronica Arbogast, Joyce Bang, Monica Bregaudit, Kayla Castagnola, Yoon Ji Chang, Jessica Change, Rachel Cyprus, Danielle Dixon, Kimberly Dougherty, Brittnie Ferguson, Jennifer Fugger, Amber Groenke, Antonia Gunner, Julia Haimowitz, Alison Hansen, Tiffanie Hardin, Michelle Hester, Kaytie Holt, Aileen Hovsepian and Da Eun Hwang.

It also includes: Amanda Jones, Paige Kensil, Alyssa Keyne, Kristin Krabach, Sarah Lee, Stephanie Lee, Arielle Leonard, Kristen Lewis, Callie McLain, Daniella Menashe, Christen Oliver, Joy Park, Jennifer Recinos, Taylor Reynolds, Elite Rothstein, Alexis Rubell, Joy Sanwo, Alexandria Stelly, Nicole Timpone and McKenzie Whiting.

Deke Sharon, founder and current vice-president of the Contemporary A Cappella Society, was one of the judges of the weekend competition held at the Great America theme park in Santa Clara.

He gave them a perfect score.

"That group has its act together," he said Tuesday. " I have never actually given a score of 100 percent but I gave them 100 percent. I rarely have an opportunity to hear a group that is such a pleasurable experience.

"It was like reading a high school essay and, while reading it, finding yourself pouring over an article found in the New Yorker."

The choir won a "superior ranking" as first place in the women's choir competition.

It also won first place choir, of all the choirs overall.

And, the group won the Award of the Festival meaning it won over high school bands and instrumental competitors.

"It's very rare to get a superior rating," said Kurt Hargleroad, reached by phone in Philadelphia, headquarters for the Music In The Parks group.

Hargleroad, senior vice president of the Music in the Parks festivals, who oversees the competitions in Great America, said the Espris de Corps Award, however, is an exceptional achievement.

"This award is not something you can prepare for in a day," he said. "To win this award, it means these kids conducted themselves as professionals who conducted themselves in a courteous and professional manner.

"We feel this award is very important," he added. "Because it's about developing life skills."

More than 200,000 young people take part in about 220 competitions organized by the Music In The Parks series each year in Canada and the United States, between March 8 and June 7 to mark the end of the year.

"We were told by one of the organizers that out of the nine years they've been running the competition, they've never seen a score this high, 99 out of a 100," Enns said.


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