Twenty years, many singers, big celebration for South Bay Children’s Choir

Two decades in music education is no small feat, especially with the current crop of obstacles and saturation that every arts organization must face.  But this weekend, South Bay Children’s Choir celebrates just that, with a 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert at their adopted home at El Camino College, at Marsee Auditorium.

Artistic director Diane Simons started the group with Dr. Jane Hardester in 1996, filling a need in the South Bay as schools continued to pull arts programs and neglect musical training.  Thousands of kids ranging from age 6 to 17 have worked with the group over the years, and alums have gone on to impressive achievements, with many still working in music, the arts and education themselves.

One of the most publicly acknowledged of these alumni is actress-writer-comedienne Rachel Bloom, who recently won a Golden Globe for her new series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a groundbreaking hour-long (gasp!), musical (gasp again!) sitcom on The CW.  Bloom’s loyalty to SBCC has remained strong, insisting on using their singers last fall, when a small choir was needed for Episode #3.

Dr. Beth Nam,  pianist and one third of the Allant Trio, is a Juilliard-trained soloist and chamber performer, appearing on stages around the world and recently returned to the Los Angeles area, where she has agreed to work again with SBCC as a teacher and performer.

The concert this weekend serves up a diverse musical program, and will put the spotlight on several accomplished former members, coming from across the country to mark the occasion and show their continued support for the choir and programs.  More details are below, as well as on their Facebook page and website.  

A disclaimer is in order, as we do some publicity work for SBCC. However, such accomplishments deserve note, and we hope more of our local organizations will keep us posted about events such as these, so we can help spread the word.

In the meantime, sincere congrats to SBCC’s teachers, members and alumni for reaching this important milestone.  Bravo!


[Email announcement]

SBCC is coming together to celebrate our 20th birthday, and we can’t wait to see you all!

From performing with SBCC alum Rachel Bloom in  the TV series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Episode 3)  to singing in Long Beach for educators at the National Convention of the Organization for American Kodaly Educators (OAKE) on March 12 , the South Bay Children’s Choir has spread their wings far and wide this year. The upcoming Reunion Concert celebrates our 20th Anniversary Year by reaching back into our history — not only by reprising some of our favorite songs, but also bringing back our alumni to perform with us.

We have former members who are now opera divas, professional singers, music teachers, and some who just love singing and want to perform with us again.  It will be an inspiring concert because we have come so far since 1996. Not only will you hear our singers as young as the age of 6, up through our graduating seniors,  but also many former members who are now adults in the music world.  It is wonderful to see and hear how music is still shaping their lives,  whether they are professional performers or continuing enthusiasts.

You may order your tickets in advance from the El Camino box office, by calling (310) 329-5345.
or online at
You may also purchase them at the box office when you come to the concert.

Be sure to come early to get parking ($3 at the kiosk).  You don’t want to miss the opening number “It’s a Grand Night for Singing!”

Soloists coming from afar

Two of our soloists flying in for this performance are Alison Schiller from New York, and Shea Mitchell Leparoux from Kentucky!  Both of them are successful performers,  although Shea has interrupted her career to raise her new daughter, born last fall.

Four divas and a divo

Jessie Tisdale is a lyric coloratura soprano, performing in concerts and on the opera stage in locations across the country. Jessie was a founding member of SBCC and will demonstrate her expertise in coloratura style by performing the virtuoso aria, “The Bell Song”,  from Leo Delibes’ Lakme.

Those of you who saw Craig Benson perform in the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center production of Beauty and the Beast already know how well he can command a stage. He’s pictured here as Monastatos in Mozart’s Magic Flute at CSULB.  At our concert, his performance of Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” will be a dramatic moment you will not forget!

You have probably heard Dr. Beth Nam perform as a brilliant concert pianist.  But did you know she is also an outstanding singer?  You will hear her beautiful voice and consummate artistry as she sings Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” on this concert, together with Bel Canto.

Dr. Amber Alarcón is a busy mezzo-soprano and educator, and will sing “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Samson et Dalila.  This difficult aria by Camille Saint-Saëns is one of the most romantic and heartbreaking in the repertoire.

Niko Murakami, a freshman at Cal State Long Beach, recently won first place in the vocalist category at the Jean Lombardo Marina District Young Musicians Competition, as she sang “Du gai soleil” from the opera Werther by Jules Massenet. The judges commented on the difficulty of the selection and how well her lovely voice was suited for it, as well as her excellent French!  You may remember her from our spring concert last May, and we look forward to hearing her again in our reunion concert, with another opera aria to round out the program.

Boys will be Troubadours

Troubadours with their choreographer, Cindy Bullock, joined by former members Craig Benson and Daniel Genuth. More of our former boys (now men, of course) will be singing and dancing in “Jolly Holiday”, with Kelsey Bullock as Mary Poppins. It will be one of the highlights of the show!

Front row: Jim Nguyen, Kai Schlichting, Cindy Bullock, Kevin Nakadate, Luke Gregory
Back row: Max Brown, Connor Fujishige, Fletcher Ozborne, Craig Benson, Francisco Martinez, Cole Fujishige, Daniel Genuth


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