“Choir isn’t just about singing, it’s about getting to know each other and being a family,” said Mercedez Jones, a freshman at Camas High School. The choir at CHS has around 160 students and they all have a different voice. Mr. Ethan Chessin, the choir teacher here at CHS said, “What I love about choir is that there is a mix of everybody. It’s something that anybody can do and everyone can feel a part of.” One of the changes that Chessin made this year in the choir program is that he is assigning homework. He said it is “exciting to grade, but it’s only about five minutes. It’s not much but it is an opportunity to get a snapshot of where each of the individuals in the class is, and their vocal growth.”
Since CHS now has an orchestra, the choir can do more pieces than before. The vocal ensemble will be singing a song at the beginning of the year called Ave Verm Corpus by Mozart. This will let the choir get a feel of how they sound with the orchestra. This winter the orchestra and the vocal ensemble will be performing all of Vivaldi’s Gloria, which is a half hour long. Chessin said, “It will kind of be like going to a professional choir performance.” Vivaldi’s Gloria has twelve parts, instrumental solos, singing solos, duets, and so much more.
On Tuesday, October 19th, the choir gave their first performance of the school year. One of the songs they performed was Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie, which included body percussion. According to Chessin, a body percussion is a form of step dancing, which historically originated from the African American community. With the help of Amira Onohua, the career specialist, they were able to choreograph the movements that the students performed on Tuesday. The audience seemed impressed and pleasantly surprised by this unique approach to the choir.
The choir students seem to be enjoying these changes and improving because of them. Amanda Hutchins, a freshman at CHS said that “Ethan Chessin is a great teacher, and the atmosphere is very accepting.” The school is looking forward to seeing what the choir at CHS has to offer this year.