On a warm and sunny afternoon last week, the lilting voices of four young sopranos filled the airy living room of the Perez family home in North Davis.
Davis High School senior Julia Gladding was at the piano, while arrayed behind her were fellow senior Natalie Anderson, junior Heather Perez and sophomore Sierra Marié, all second sopranos in the 36-member Davis High Advanced Treble Choir.
They gather weekly here for an hour of practice after school, just these four girls, while other ATC members meet in their own sections elsewhere. On this day, the girls began with “Kyrie Eleison,” and under Gladding’s gentle guidance, worked through the piece again and again.
They will perfect their lines here together in their sectional, then combine their voices with the larger choir at a later practice, preparing as they are for an upcoming fundraiser that will help make the choir’s spring trip to New York City possible.
But as they work together after school every week, these girls aren’t just classmates and choirmates — they’ve become more than that.
“We’ve bonded really well,” Anderson said. “We’re really good friends.”
This is the third year Anderson and Gladding have been in the choir and both speak of the friendships they’ve formed, first with the older students when they were the newbies, and now that they are the oldest students, with the ones coming up behind them.
Now they are the leaders — Gladding, in fact, is one of two student directors assisting choir director Karen Gardias.
But being leaders doesn’t spare them from auditions. Gardias requires all choir members to re-audition every year, an intimidating process, Gladding said. “But it’s good practice,” she added.
Marié, the sophomore of the group, wasn’t sure she wanted to audition. She hadn’t participated in choir in junior high — though she does play the violin. But she’s glad she did audition in the end.
“It’s my favorite class,” said Marié, who adds that all of the sophomores have become better singers since joining the choir.
Perez’s older sister was in the choir many years ago but she found herself trying to decide whether to audition for ATC or the Madrigals.
“I had heard the ATC was a super close-knit group,” Perez said.
She’s since learned it’s true.
“I really enjoy singing,” she said. “And I love sectionals; it’s my favorite part of the week.”
The full Advanced Treble Choir performs several times throughout the school year, with their big performances coming during the holidays and at a spring showcase. In between, they’ll head to New York where they will work with renowned composer Eric Whitacre and perform at Lincoln Center.
Choir policy is that all members who want to go on the annual trip, get to go. To ensure they all can, students are busy fundraising, including at an upcoming “Uncork for Music” benefit, being held this Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Pence Gallery, 212 D St.
While the students’ main job will be performing there — they will be singing eight to 10 songs, Gladding said — the ATC Parent Support Group will host the afternoon of wine-tasting, food, silent auction, art and, of course, music.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. To reserve advance tickets, email [email protected] or contact an ATC family. Those unable to attend but wishing to donate can make a tax-deductible donation to the choir.
The choir — either the full group or an octet — also can be hired to perform at parties and special events — another way members raise funds for their trips. Learn more by emailing [email protected]
Since it was founded in 2001, the choir has grown in size and caliber, with students not just performing throughout the year, but also sponsoring the Davis High and Davis Community Idol contests. In addition to Saturday’s benefit, the choir will sing at the Harmony in our Lives benefit concert on Sunday, Nov. 17, and will perform Handel’s “Messiah” on Saturday, Dec. 21. Visit the choir’s website, http://groups.dcn.org/dhstreblechoir, for more information on those performances.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy