Angelic voices: Kohala High School Choir students make sweet music at state choral event

  • Kohala High School Choir students Syncier Rabang, Mya Bartsch. Kawehe Amina, Kalia Emiliano, Easton Chong, Nathan Romero and Justus Ventura pose on the steps of Central Union Church in Honolulu prior to singing their concert for the Hawaii All-State High School Choral Festival, Na Leo Hou, in February. (COURTESY PHOTO

KOHALA — The 2017 Na Leo Hou Hawaii All-State Choral Festival, held in Honolulu Feb. 16-18, drew 380 students from Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island to participate in the massive choir event.

Seven Kohala High School Choir students represented their school and North Hawaii.

KHS Choir just began last year, and its students Syncier Rabang, Mya Bartsch. Kawehe Amina, Kalia Emiliano, Easton Chong, Nathan Romero and Justus Ventura participated in the choral festival last month.

Bartsch, a sophomore soprano, said, “I am more than grateful that I got to go to this festival and do what I love and am passionate about. This choir was made up of 380 beautiful angelic voices. There were moments when my eyes would water with tears because I was so overwhelmed with the outstanding sound that came out of these high school choirs. Most of the time I had chills all over my body. It was a jaw-dropping and mind-blowing experience.”

The high school students sang for three days straight.

“We worked our best to get what we needed to get done so that we could be prepared for the performance,” Bartsch said. “The seven of us felt a big responsibility to represent our school. We did sight reading and were graded on it.”

During the event there was also a talent show and a solo audition.

“I represented Kohala High School in it,” Bartsch said. “When it came to the actual performance, it was spectacular. We performed five songs, with one song that we did a hula to and sang at the same time, all memorized. We did amazing, and I can’t wait for next year.”

The choral group is directed by Adrienne Cherry.

“I was hired 2 1/2 years ago to start a music program at KHS. There had been none for several years,” she said. “Our principal is a forward thinker and does amazing things creating an atmosphere of striving for excellence. After the first year I asked if we could add the choral group.”

Easton Chong, a Kohala High School junior and baritone said, “The Na Leo Hou Choral Festival was the best thing that I’ve attended because it was amazing singing with 80 baritones and finding a new part of my tone I had never known was there. In the course of three days, our whole choral group became like family, and the other schools were just so welcoming to us and everyone else there. Our conductor, Dr. Kennedy, was amazing. She would make us laugh by making us dance motions to show a crescendo. My experience was great and I would love to do it again.”

Nanea Foundation, Dorrance Family Foundation, North Kohala Student Cultural &Enrichment Program and the Lion’s Club were generous KHS Choir Program supporters who contributed financially. Other donations and in-kind support came from community members who made the trip possible.

“Upon their return, those seven students have come back into the classroom and are contributing with high enthusiasm, energy and focus in a way I never dreamed possible,” Cherry said. “This has lit a fire under them and inspired them. They’re bringing their experience home.”

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