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Santa Clara Chorale’s Autumn Serenade Blends Voices of Three Choirs

Santa Clara Chorale's Autumn Serenade Blends Voices of Three Choirs

The Santa Clara Chorale, under the direction of guest conductor Lou De La Rosa, welcomed the St. Francis High School Chamber Choir, the Mountain View High School Madrigals, and the Saratoga High School String Orchestra to perform with the Chorale at its 51st season opening concert, “Autumn Serenade,” October 19, 8 p.m., at Mission Santa Clara.

“We consider this a rebirth, to start another 50 years of presenting our music to the Bay Area,” says Board of Directors President Ron Paradies.


The St. Francis Chamber Choir was directed by Margaret Sullivan Durando, and the Madrigals, who wore Renaissance costumes made by some of their parents, were directed by Jill Denny. Both choral groups sang in several languages. The Saratoga High School String Orchestra accompanied the Santa Clara Chorale when they sang “In Windsor Forest” from the opera “Sir John in Love.”

For the finale, the combined choirs overflowed the chancel of the mission church, blending their voices to sing the traditional American spiritual “Down by the Riverside.” The audience, which included many proud parents, was invited to sing the final verse with the choirs.

“The collaboration between the three choirs is incredible. The church is so beautiful, and then having the opportunity to hear the Chorale here is unique,” says Santa Claran Fernando Rodriguez, whose daughter, Sylvia Rodriguez, has sung with the Santa Clara Chorale since she was a high school senior.

“It’s a beautiful concert with a lot of energy,” says Sylvia’s mother, Haydee Varela. “We haven’t missed a concert since Sylvia started singing.”

Perhaps no parent was prouder than Doris Harry, mother of Madrigals Director Jill Denny.

“It’s so great that the young people get to come and hear the Santa Clara Chorale because they can hear more mature voices and know what’s ahead for them,” says Harry, director of the Music School of Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church.”The audience is getting such a wonderful experience, and the Chorale is getting a new audience of parents.”

“The Santa Clara Chorale outreach means so much to those of us in the schools,” says De La Rosa, Director of Choral and Vocal studies at West Valley College. “Each of these singers tonight started early with music lessons and practice. Their excellence is also the result of some fine education going on in the classroom.”

The Santa Clara Chorale received a $3,453 grant in 2011 from Arts Council Silicon Valley for outreach at two Santa Clara schools. A program at Buchser Middle School culminated March 29 in a Pops Concert with the Chorale.

More recently, the grant funded a six-week, once-a-week music program at Haman Elementary School, where forty-three students participated. The program, directed by Demy, culminated in an afternoon school performance October 19.

The Santa Clara Chorale is conducting a nation-wide search for a permanent artistic director. Dr. Ryan Brandau, its former director, accepted a position on the East Coast. Board of Directors President Paradies says that the Chorale hopes to fill the opening by May 2013.

“Comfort and Joy,” the Chorale’s December 7 and 9 concert at Mission Santa Clara, will be conducted by Dr. Charlene Archibeque, professor emeritus at San Jose State University. For information about the Santa Clara Chorale, visit



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