Crescenta Valley Carolers Add Music to Glendale

Helen Galvin
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Young women in red and green plaid skirts, capes draped over their shoulders and young men in black top hats and frock coats brought the holiday season to Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Students from Crescenta Valley High School’s choral group, known as Charismatics, sang Christmas carols during the five minute oral communication section of the meeting. Between “Caroling, Caroling,” “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” and “Carol of the Bells,” Dr. Kerry Burtis, head of Visual and Performing Arts department at Crescenta Valley High School, thanked the council for its support over the year through the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission.

The Glendale Arts and Culture Commission officially began in 2000. Glendale has always had an informal history of support for the arts, unlike Pasadena or Burbank, which have regular city agencies. In the past, the council allocated funds each year to use for “art.” Usually the money was spent for such things as a new sculpture for the library or towards a larger project such as the refurbishing of the Alex Theater.

Under former City Councilman Sheldon Baker, a group was formed to investigate the cultural needs of the city. After months of research, the effort formalized into a program that became the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission.

Eve Rapport, community service supervisor for arts and culture, said, “In early 2001, we received an educational grant from the California Arts Council for $106,703.” Part of the money was used for an experimental program between GCC and Glendale Unified School District to broaden the music program in the high schools. A program is currently in progress where students from Crescenta Valley High School are enrolled at GCC in music classes, namely the choir.

The students meet at Crescenta Valley High School as if they were attending a regular college class. Because college courses often meet only two or three times a week, the students have more flexibility with fitting this course, which requires extra hours for practice, into their schedule.

“Part of GCC’s mission statement is to offer courses that will benefit the community,” said Glenn DeLange, a professor of music at GCC.

This music program helps these high school students in many ways. Not only does it get some college requirements out of the way, it also gives the student a sense of accomplishment. Though their classes are held at the high school, the students have full use of this campus, which includes the use of the music library. They also are offered help from college instructors.

“This musical program has worked so well, that we are considering having an online music theory course,” DeLange said.

The benefits are not limited to the classroom. James Yoo, a member of the choir who considers singing his sport, likes the perks that come with the choir. Next summer the Charismatics go to the Grand Canyon.
“I get pleasure seeing people’s happy reaction to our singing after our long hours of rehearsal,” said singer Christine Ju.

“I have so much fun with these (the Charismatics) people,” said Christine Rabb. “Singing really brings us together as a group, we rely on each other.”

“The art professionals on the commission are pleased at how fast we have made a significant difference in Glendale,” said Rapport.