13 upper school students accepted into National and All-State Honor Choirs


Graphic by Sally Zhu

Photos provided by Teresa Cai, Anya Warrier, Alan Jiang, Aniket Singh, Anya Chauhan, Miki Mitarai, Aria Jain, Ava Arasan, Kris Estrada, Anika Pandey, Shayla He, Katelyn Hsu and Varun Bhupathi. National, All-State and Regional Honor Choirs welcomed 13 upper school students in December, the highest number of Harker acceptances yet.

by Kinnera Mulam and Sally Zhu

National, All-State and Regional Honor Choirs welcomed 13 upper school students in December, the highest number of Harker acceptances yet.

Seniors Teresa Cai and Anya Warrier, juniors Alan Jiang and Aniket Singh and sophomores Anya Chauhan and Miki Mitarai will join the National Association for Music Education’s Honor Ensembles (NAfME) and sing with the choir during their virtual concert and participate in the program from Jan. 22 to Jan. 24. 

California Choral Directors Association selected Teresa, Aria Jain (11), Alan, Miki, Aniket, Ava Arasan (11), Kris Estrada (11), Anika Pandey (11), Shayla He (10), Katelyn Hsu (10) and Varun Bhupathi (9) for the California All-State Choir, which sent emails to the accepted students on Dec. 6.

The American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Western Division Honor Choir announced on Nov, 9 that it will feature Alan, Miki and Aria. The honor choirs are scheduled to perform in March at the ACDA Western Division’s regional conference in Long Beach, which will take place from March 2 to March 5. 

Aria, a member of Harker’s treble voice choir Cantilena, will enter her third year of participating in Honor Choir — she performed with Honor Choir for the first time in middle school and virtually for the second time in 10th grade, where she met the Honor Choir directors, conductors and other vocalists online. 

“The best part is meeting the directors because every director has something totally different, which they want to share with you,” Aria said. “They each have their own different techniques, which is super cool to learn.”

The students will receive choral pieces to learn on their own before joining with their fellow choir members during their respective conferences, after which they will rehearse and perform together. During the conferences, they learn new vocal and performance techniques, especially ones that are group-oriented, and learn new stylistic techniques for different genres as they build up stamina to rehearse in long singing-only sessions. Aria particularly enjoyed learning new warm-ups for her voice last year, as she was introduced to warm-ups she hadn’t known before. 

According to Jennifer Sandusky, upper school vocal music teacher who instructs Bel Canto and Downbeat, the students learn from world-renowned directors and conductors through the national, regional and state Honor Choirs. Vocal music Certificate candidates are required to audition, though any upper school choral student may audition. Sandusky expressed her appreciation for the accepted students’ hard work and effort for dedicating time outside the classroom for the choirs. 

“This is a great opportunity for the kids because they don’t get to do a lot of large choir music here at Harker because we have such small choirs,” Sandusky said. “It provides an opportunity for them to get their feet wet in other music that they don’t get to do here.”

Kris first participated in a Harker choir last year as a member of Bel Canto and joined Downbeat this year. As he progressed through the auditions, he found the process overwhelming as judges accepted students based on vocal technique, sight reading and vocal quality. After hearing about his acceptance, he felt a sense of pride and joy especially since he did not expect to make it into the choir.

“I hope to build my musical skills and along the way, build connections and meet more musicians,” Kris said. “Hopefully, I’ll get to know how to improve my choral skills, my vocal skills and technique. Even though I may go into this looking to learn more musically, I also hope to get to know other people throughout the entire state of California.”