Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Director of Choral, Vocal, and Opera Studies and Associate Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory at California State University Jonathan Talberg leads nearly 250 choir students from around the Kenai Peninsula Tuesday, Feb. 9., 2016, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Director of Choral, Vocal, and Opera Studies and Associate Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory at California State University Jonathan Talberg leads nearly 250 choir students from around the Kenai Peninsula Tuesday, Feb. 9., 2016, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska.

Sing on high

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Sunday, February 14, 2016 3:49pm
  • NewsSchools

With hands high above his head and a broad smile across his face, Jonathan Talberg led a host of student singers Tuesday afternoon in George Frideric Handel’s “The King Shall Rejoice.”

Inside the Renee C. Henderson auditorium, the group of 250 choir members was fine-tuning for that evening’s 2016 Mass Choir performance at Kenai Central High School. Groups came from six different Kenai Peninsula high schools to participate in the decades-old, traditional event that includes all levels of experience.

“Some can barely match a pitch and some are going to study choir later in music later at a higher level,” Talberg said of his new students.

It was Talberg’s first time on the Kenai Peninsula and first time teaching anyone from the group.

He is usually instructing students of an older age as the Director of Choral, Vocal, and Opera Studies and Associate Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory at California State University in Long Beach, California.

Talberg was asked by Simon Nissen, Kenai Central High School music teacher, to attend this year’s choir, as every year a new instructor from around the country is called to come.

Kent Peterson, Soldotna High School music teacher, said Talberg had quite a hold on the students.

Peterson said the group practices the pieces, always chosen by the festival director, for about six weeks before the final performance. This year, Talberg chose three very different songs for the students to try out.

Talberg said he has been told he has “a look about him,” but he rarely has had behavioral issues in the groups he has taught throughout his career. He said he believes “an engaged student is a disciplined student.” He said he engages his students wherever they are at, by including a little history in the lesson.

“It helps to bring it alive to these students I they can have a vision in their head in addition to the music they are singing,” Talberg said.

Nikiski High School eleventh grader Makayla Hansen has attended the festival for the past three years.

It is a way to meet other students, make friend and trade information with her peers. She said it is a place where she is sure to learn new techniques. It also allows some experience with different conducting styles, she said.

Kenai Central High School senior Henry Guillemette said he just started singing this year. He said Nissen’s teaching style is one of the most fun he has had since middle school.

“You get to experience a lot of different things,” Guillemette said. “You pair up with different harmonies and learn how to vocalize and harmonize with other people. It is pretty much a sense of enjoyment.”

Guilemette said he learned from the festival he needs to practice a little more regularly.

Talberg said inspiring students is part of what he tries to do. He said this year, he felt “a little sense of striving to be average, and I want them to be above average.”

For Kenai Central High School eleventh grader Hannah Janecek, an exchange student from Austria, the experience has been life changing. She said as soon as she goes home she is joining a choir there.

“It is just something different, and you are learning to be a part of a group, which is great,” Janecek said. “It is my most favorite class and I have made a lot of friends through choice. It is one class where everyone has been very welcoming.”

Singers quickly learn they are not the most important person on the stage, but without their voice, the music would not reach it’s fullest potential, Janecek said.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Tenth grader Dominique Conner watches instructor Jonathan Talberg closerly during rehearsal Tuesday, Feb. 9. 2016, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Tenth grader Dominique Conner watches instructor Jonathan Talberg closerly during rehearsal Tuesday, Feb. 9. 2016, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska.

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