As students from across the state prepare for this weekend’s East Tennessee Vocal Association All-East Honors Chorus, one Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy sophomore will be making musical history on behalf of the school. Carmen Gonzales, the only CGLA vocalist to audition for the chorus, was selected as a First Soprano for All-East.
CGLA Choral Director Charles Collins, II says he has selected singers from CGLA to participate in prior All-East middle school choruses before, but none of the girls has ever auditioned for the Women’s or Mixed (Women and Men) choirs.
“I’m very proud of Carmen who learned her audition pieces in German and Italian on her own,” said Mr. Collins. “She’s involved in so many activities at school I was afraid she wouldn’t make the audition. After arriving, she passed the vocal screening with flying colors.”
The ETVA All East Choruses will perform Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. at the Tivoli Theater.
Another CGLA chorus member is making history on a national scale. Senior DeCaira Hubbard auditioned and is a finalist to sing with the WorldStrides Heritage Performance Honors Chorus at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ms. Hubbard had to submit a videotape of herself singing to be considered for the nationwide group.
“DeCaira has a natural gift,” said Mr. Collins, who added the student joined his middle school chorus in the eighth grade. Ms. Hubbard must also practice and prepare on her own for the NYC performance to be held in February.
While CGLA vocalists are on the move, the school is also offering piano lessons to its students with the help of a grant from the McKenzie Foundation. The Young Women’s Leadership Academy Foundation, CGLA’s founding sponsor, originally wrote the grant for the purchase of six piano stations. After some research, Mr. Collins located newer model keyboards that allowed for the purchase of 12 pianos, headphones and hiring an after school instructor. There are currently 16 students enrolled in the piano program.
We are extremely pleased about the expansion of the arts as part of our STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math] curriculum,” said CGLA Executive Director Dr. Elaine Swafford. “Thanks to partners like the McKenzie Foundation, CGLA can continue to expose our students to numerous possibilities in music education and the fine arts. Exposure that will contribute to their development as well-rounded young women.”