Valencia High Choir takes home first place at Monterey Jazz Festival For the first time in the program’s history, Valencia High School’s jazz choir Two N’ Four won first place at one of the country’s biggest competitions, the Next Generation Monterey Jazz Festival. “We’ve never gotten first place before, this is our first time out of 15 years,” Choir Director Christine Tavares-Mocha said. Each year Valencia High School applies to enter the competition, which takes submissions from public and private middle schools, high schools and colleges. Winners from the competition get a chance to perform with professional artists on stage at the annual Monterey Jazz Festival. “Schools from around the U.S. apply to get in and they choose eight top schools around the country,” Tavares-Mocha said. “This group has gotten in since 2005, but we haven’t always placed. Usually they tend to get fourth or third. Over the last four years they’ve gotten second so we’ve gotten to perform at the showcase, but this is the first time ever that we’ve made it this far.” As the first place winner, the Valencia High School Choir will receive a stipend and be the opening act for this year’s Monterey Jazz Festival in September. “We are a public school and we beat groups with huge theater programs or county high school performing arts programs,” Tavares-Mocha said. During their 28-minute stet, the students sang a total of five songs and finished with a standing ovation from the audience. “We were the only standing ovation of the day,” Tavares-Mocha said. “That’s what we go for as a group. I tell the students all the time no matter how you score what matters is what the audience thought. You need to learn how to put on a good show if you want to be a performer.” The standing ovation was enough of a success for the students. But, when they found out they won first place in their division, they were astonished and overwhelmed. “Some of my students have been trying for four years and this has never happened. Some of them were stunned. Others actually cried because people came up to them and said, ‘Out of 30 years you moved me’ and they started crying,” Tavares-Mocha said. “I remember right after we were done one of them said this is what it’s all about, this is why perform. We don’t perform for the trophy, we perform to inspire others and to inspire ourselves to strive and work harder.” For Tavares-Mocha, the best part of the competition was watching her students interact with other performers from around the country, develop new friendships and grow as human beings. “The awesome thing about watching these students grow is knowing that it doesn’t end at the end of the year. This group ends, but they go on and continue to inspire others and that’s what music is all about is giving light to everybody and inviting them into performing,” Tavares-Mocha said. “I’m lucky to teach these kids.” Valencia High School Vocalists: Henry Anderson Justina Lee Sophia Bellefeuille Alexia Vincent James Evans Matthew Ahn Yonghee Shin Jaden Lewis Therese Masangcay Calvin Kim Zachary Miranda Kenneth Borchart Kelley Fredriksen Danna Dumandan Clay (Elias) Riche Chris Gilbert Madison Miller  ” - Christina Cox

The Signal

Valencia High School Jazz Choir Wins First Place In Nation At Next Generation Jazz Festival The Valencia High School jazz choir, Two N’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble, was ranked as the top jazz choir in the country last weekend, after winning the Next Generation Monterey Jazz Festival. The Two N’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble placed first in the nation Saturday, beating other public, private and performing arts high schools from all over the nation, said VHS Choir Director Christine Tavares-Mocha. “Eight jazz choirs from all over the country are selected to perform at the Next Generation Monterey Jazz Festival,” said Tavares-Mocha. “After the eight choirs compete, the top two are selected to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September.” The VHS Jazz choir has been selected to compete in the Next Generation Jazz Festival for over 10 years and they have been showcased as one of the top two winners in the past. But this weekend marks their first time being named the 1st place festival winners. Related: Valencia High School Vocal Jazz Named 1 In Nation By Downbeat “The student’s main goal as performers is to try and please the audience to receive a standing ovation,” Tavares-Mocha. “To us, that is our highest honor. It’s just ‘the cherry on the top’ if we actually win.” Winning the competition meant a lot for not only Tavares-Mocha, but for her students as well. “Most of the students who won this year are juniors and seniors who have put a lot of work in trying to win this event since they joined high school,” said Tavares-Mocha. Related: Valencia High School Singers To Play At Monterey Jazz Festival Each year, the winning jazz choir has the opportunity to be the opening act for jazz professionals at the Pro Monterey Jazz Festival in the fall. In September, the choir will perform  alongside jazz professionals such as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. A Valencia singer, Jaden Lewis, also won the best soloist award at the competition, Tavares-Mocha said. The vocalists who were part of the winning choir included Henry Anderson, Justina Lee, Sophia Bellefeuille, Alexia Vincent, James Evans, Matthew Ahn, Yonghee Shin, Jaden Lewis, Therese Masangcay, Calvin Kim, Zachary Miranda, Kenneth Borchart, Kelley Fredriksen, Danna Dumandan, Clay (Elias) Riche, Chris Gilbert and Madison Miller. ” - Louie Diaz

KHTS Hometown Station

Two N' Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble perform at Monterey Jazz Festival This weekend, 16 current and former students in Valencia High School’s Two N’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble had the unique opportunity to perform at the 60th annual Monterey Jazz Festival. The school choir was one of three in the nation selected to perform in the professional lineup of more than 500 artists. “We’re just really thankful and grateful that we got selected to perform,” Choir Director Christine Tavares-Mocha said.  “More than that, we’re just lucky that we have the support of parents and the community as a public school to represent our school, our city and our state in this festival.” Held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds from Friday to Sunday, the Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates the legacy of jazz and expands its boundaries through a production of performances and educational programs. For three days and two nights, artists from across the country participate in the longest-running jazz festival in the world. **The Valencia High School Choir practices on Friday ahead of a performance at the Monterrey Jazz Festival on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal The group of six recent graduates and 10 current Valencia High School students was invited to participate in the festival in March when they were named the runner up in the high school vocal division at the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Festival. During their Sunday afternoon performance, the students performed the same set they won with six months ago. “They thought it was unbelievable and felt it went full-circle.  They worked so hard for four years,” Tavares-Mocha said.  “It was an amazing and prestigious event so they were on cloud 9 and so was I as their teacher.  It was such an honor, as a public school teacher, to be selected for something like that.” Tavares-Mocha said it was both exciting and humbling to watch her students perform independently on the stage at a prestigious event. “It is really amazing to watch these students grow and then you see them on stage and they do so well and are so professional and you forget that they’re high school students,” she said.  “Many of these students never had any musical training before they joined choir and to see how far they’ve come is amazing as a teacher.” This is not the only success of the Two N’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble during their 2016-17 season. This past year the choir won first place in the Fullerton Jazz Festival and first place in the California Verdugo Hills A Cappella Festival. They also are the winter of six DownBeat Awards including the 2017 winner of “Top High School Vocal Jazz Ensemble” and spent their summer traveling France and performing throughout the country. **The Valencia High School Choir practices on Friday ahead of a performance at the Monterrey Jazz Festival on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal It is a path of success that Tavares-Mocha and her students hope to continue during their upcoming competition and performance season, as they attempt to be part of the Monterey Jazz Festival again. “We will always try, this is our fourth year being at the Monterey Jazz Festival,” Tavares-Mocha said.  “Every year is a new group with new students and it’s kind of exciting that way…  As older students graduate newer students step up to the plate.” Link: ccox@signalscv.com661-287-5575On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_” - Christina Cox

The Signal

Valencia High School Vocal Jazz Named #1 In Nation By Downbeat Valencia High School’s Vocal Jazz Program, which features the group Two N’ Four, has been named the No. 1 Vocal Jazz Program in the nation by Downbeat Magazine. “I am so proud of these students who not only are exceptionally talented, but driven and hard working,” said Christine Tavares-Mocha, Valencia Choral Director. “I am proud that our public school students reached this rare honor, and I am beyond honored to be their teacher.” Valencia High was recognized alongside Eastman College, Manhattan School of Music, Berkelee and the University of Miami. Valencia’s students are now eligible for full scholarships to attend college and continue their musical education. “I am extremely thankful to the Valencia High School administration, teachers, and the William S. Hart Union High School District for supporting music excellence in our public schools and for recognizing that there is not only a passion for music, but that teaching our students how to not only reach academic but artistic success can help them start their lifelong careers,” Tavares-Mocha said. The June, 2017, issue of Downbeat Magazine will feature Valencia and its ranking as the nation’s best Vocal Jazz Program. ” - Mauricio La Plante

KHTS Hometown Station

Valencia High School Singers To Play At Monterey Jazz Festival Valencia High School’s “Two N’ Four” Vocal Jazz Ensemble was one of two high school vocal groups from across the nation chosen to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival with Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter and Pat Metheny this September. Over the weekend, 68 groups from around the nation auditioned at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey in front more than 1,000 people. Mel Torme’s son, James, a singer like his father, arranger Kerry Marsh and vocalist Michele Weir were the judges. Eight finalists were chosen, which not only included “Two N’ Four” but also the second group from Valencia: “Soundwaves.” “We were really thinking we would do well because we have worked so hard and have great discipline,” said Valencia High’s choir teacher Christine Mocha. “They sound really good, but it’s great when you don’t expect it. When they were called the kids screamed in excitement.” The icing on the cake was Valencia’s James Meske winning the Best Soloist Award of the festival. “I am just bursting at the seams proud of my students to be one of the two schools to come back and perform at the famous Monterey Jazz Festival,” Mocha said.  “We are the only public school to get this chance. We beat performing arts schools from across the country, so this is a BIG deal.” The audience was made up mostly of jazz players and enthusiasts. When “Two N’ Four” finished performing, the audience gave them a standing ovation. “That moved me to tears,” Mocha said. The Monterey Jazz Festival, which debuted in 1958, will be held from September 16-18. The “Two N’ Four” Vocal Jazz Ensemble consist of James Meske, Zachary Wong, John McCloud, Natasha Monnett, Maya Brown, Zoe Jordan Oketch, Hannah Wacholtz, Sophia Bellefeuille, Tanner Ming, Reid Bowman and Cole Rademacher. ”

KHTS Hometown Station

Broadway Star Teaches Saugus, Valencia High School Students In Drama, Music Workshops Posted by: Chris McCrory in Arts and EntertainmentSanta Clarita Latest News February 1, 2016 - 2:18 pm 0 208 Views A Broadway star who graduated from Saugus High School returned to her hometown of Santa Clarita on Friday and Saturday to help students from Valencia and Saugus polish up their performance skills as part of a series of workshops on drama and music. Mandy Gonzalez led the workshops, where the students were given over 12 dance numbers to memorize over Jan. 29 and 30. “We do an intensive program here for the students,” said Gonzalez, “because it’s something I would have wanted (as a student).” Students from the theater and choir programs at Valencia and Saugus High Schools were instructed by professionals from Young Performers of America, while some were taken into a separate auditorium for personal coaching in a master class put on by Gonzalez. “There’s a lot of students here with a lot of talent,” she said. The workshops culminated in a pair of performances on Saturday night aimed at raising funds for the drama and music programs in the William S. Hart Union High School District. “It’s a great thing for the community,” said Gonzalez. “Over the course of two days, they’ve grown so much. it’s been insane.” Gonzalez orchestrated the workshops with the help of longtime friend Christine Tavares-Mocha, the choir director at Valencia High School. “The kids are extremely talented,” said Tavares-Mocha. “It’s amazing to watch them grow over such a short time.” Gonzalez hopes to continue the classes next year, and hopefully expand. “We kind of kept it to the two schools,” she said, “but we’d like to come back next year and have all the schools participate.” ” - Chris McCrory


Saugus High grad, Broadway star helps put on performance workshop for SCV students A Broadway star returned home to the Santa Clarita Valley this weekend to help show the ropes to more than 100 young performers from Saugus and Valencia high schools.Staging the performance workshop Friday and Saturday at Valencia High School were professionals from Young Performers of America, including Broadway star and Saugus High School graduate Mandy Gonzalez.Gonzalez grew up in Saugus and has since gone on to star in a number of Broadway shows, including “Wicked” and “In the Heights.”Getting to come back to work with high-schoolers in her hometown was “incredible,” said Gonzalez, who is also creative director of Young Performers of America.“I love working with students, seeing their passion for theater and trying to help them bring that to life,” she said Saturday.It’s a passion Gonzalez understands well. Being involved in programs like drama and theater “really saved me in high school,” she says, by helping her find a where she felt she belonged.The one thing missing from that experience, she said, was being able to collaborate and connect with students from other schools.“I’m hoping that this program is able to do that,” she said, “because the arts really should be celebrated out here.”For Christine Tavares-Mocha, the choral and vocal director at Valencia, the best part of the workshop was seeing students come out of their shells. “When you watch your kids start growing ... it’s really inspiring as a teacher,” she said Saturday. “It’s what we live for as teachers.”Though not all the students who participated in the workshop may aspire to be on a Broadway stage some day, Tavares-Mocha said she hopes they all come away inspired to chase their dreams. “Whatever it is, aspire to it and work toward that goal,” she said. “And have the grit and perseverance to do it rather than just dream about it.”The students showcased their two days of hard work Saturday night with a pair of performances at Valencia High School.Gonzalez said she thinks Saturday’s performances brought “a little bit of Broadway to Santa Clarita” and that she hopes to bring the program back in the future.Lmoney@signalscv.com661-287-5525On Twitter @LukeMMoney Link:  ” - Luke Money

The Signal

An Experience Of A LifetimeElite Magazine by Stephanie Elgin As America’s flag hung, still waving despite defeat on that dawn in September, 1814, the sight inspired Francis Scott Key to write his poem, Defense of Fort McHenry. The poem was set to music, modified and retitled and in 1931 proclaimed by Congress to be our Nation’s Anthem… The Star Spangled Banner. It was during the 19th century that The Star Spangled Banner became one of America’s loved patriotic songs. And it’s no surprise that it gained even more popularity when played at Major League Baseball games, after all, baseball is known as America’s favorite pastime. During the 1918 World Series game between the Red Sox and the Cubs, the brass band played Francis Scott Key’s The Star Spangled Banner and the players and the fans immediately joined in…. Patriotism at its best.The Valencia High School Choir had a chance to partake in America’s tradition. On the evening of July 3, the award winning Valencia High School Vocal Jazz Two N’ Four belted out The Star Spangled Banner in front of thousands of fans at the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds game. As the crowds stood with their hands over their hearts, ball caps in hand, saluting the flag, you couldn’t help but be proud of our Santa Clarita students who represented not only our Valley so well, but our country too. Their rendition was flawless.Jeffrey Pina, father of choir member Blair Pina, made all of this happen. With the right connections through his company, Avery Dennison, he approached Craig Sindici of the Dodgers organization to consider the VHS Vocal Jazz Two N’ Four under the direction of Christine Tavares to perform the National Anthem. After a few connections with the Dodger front office, the organization chose the VHS Jazz Choir to sing the National Anthem prior to the game and God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch.Craig and Jeffrey decided to make a night of it for the choir students. The Dodgers donated Suite tickets and purchased food to create a memorable experience for the kids and their parents…a memory that will last a lifetime.“My wife Dyanne and I donated our time and finances to support a fantastic music program at Valencia and a terrific teacher in Christine Tavares, not to mention some wonderful kids and parents who are passionate about jazz, our school, education and making a difference,” states Jeffrey. “What a testimony to the American public education system.” The Valencia High School Choir headed to London in July to perform in the London Summer Olympics in front of a crowd of over 85,000 and millions of viewers. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and a chance for them to see the places and events they’ve been learning about in their history books. More so, it’s a chance to step outside of America and understand what the world is like in a hands on way,” states Director Christine Tavares. “What an incredible experience for the youth that will hopefully become leaders of their generation.” For more information about the Valencia Choir, visit  ” - Stephanie Elgin

Elite Magazine


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