Camas Features Music School

CHS Choir’s First Glimpse of Normalcy

After a year of no concerts, Camas High School choirs are now getting the chance to celebrate their dedication of continuing to learn and work hard during online learning.

Photo Courtesy of Macy Timczyk

On Thursday, June 10th, 7 pm at Doc Harris Stadium the CHS choirs will be putting on their first and only concert of the year. This event comes after months of hard work after many students went back to learning in school. With graduation being the next day, Doc Harris is already set up for sound and performances, making it a prime location for this last-minute event. No tickets will be needed,  meaning anyone who is interested can come! Masks will be required as well as social distancing.

Last-minute events call for last-minute stressing and planning. Choir director Ethan Chessin said “Normally I would have had my concerts set back in prior June. It’s the week before and I’m kinda guessing on a couple of key details, but the best thing to do is going into something expecting things to not work. It’s very relieving because normally I get specific about my musical ideals about what should happen and it’s so nice to say that we’re going to be singing in a football stadium, people might not be able to hear anything we do and that’s okay, I think people are more excited to get a chance to sing together.”

Because of the fact that the choir has not been able to function as normal, there has been a much higher work ethic than previously seen in June of year’s past. Maybe there is something to be said about how this final concert is the last shot for many of these students and it has become really special to them. “Normally I hate this time of year because everyone is usually checked out but I’m not feeling any senioritis at all! I’m just feeling like everyone is just glad to get this one last sweet opportunity to make music together. I’m actually sad for this year to end! ” Chessin said.

As well as the high levels of commitment were seen on the infamous senior skip day, Chessin said, “Every morning when I walk over the Lacamas basketball court and I see everyone there I just can’t imagine that people are doing this for us. The day after the senior prank, everyone had camped out, no one had slept, and it was senior skip day, people still showed up! It was amazing!  The students showed such an extreme amount of dedication to the music and the ensemble!”

With all of the light that has been shone on different current events in our society like Black Lives Matter, it is important that there is self-reflection and learning done within every community. This is also important even in a place like a choir. When people think of choirs they might just think of happy-go-lucky songs or old classical pieces; however, when learning about and studying different types of music, there is a huge amount of growth that can be done. Not only can that be beneficial but as well, it is always a good thing to highlight artists’ work that is not often represented enough. 

Chessin said “One thing I’m particularly proud of this year is that around half of the music we are singing is composed by women or people of color. I think it adds a more interesting set of experiences for a choir. It creates an interesting set of music for choral education.” 

CHS choir has had an alumni return in the form of a student-teacher. John Neumann graduated in 2017 and participated in band and choir. He is also the State Tuba Champion. He has been helping lead the choirs through warm-ups, as well as preparing Select Vocal Ensemble to premiere a song he composed to the poem that was written by another Camas graduate named Taylor Hudson. Hudson based the poem on her feelings from her graduation in 2016. 

Chessin stated “The piece is beautiful. My hope is it will be one that all of the choirs will sing together at the end of the year. It is very special, I think there will be some emotions on display at the concert.”

Photo Courtesy of Chase Fossen

While emotions will be on display at the concert, it will have been a well-deserved outcome. A majority of students this year have not been able to make the normal connections and sense of community that so many are used to and through choir, this hurdle was one that was easily overcome. As well, with a good number of CHS choir students being seniors, there is a higher amount of emotions many members will be feeling throughout their performance on Thursday as it will be the last one for many of them. 

Chessin is hopeful that “my students will be wearing what they are thinking and feeling on their sleeves. The best performances in the choir is when people have specific connections to the emotions we are singing about. That is the thing I am hoping for and something I am finding occurs more often. Even if it’s on a football field in the rain!”


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