Santa Ynez High School choir performs at Disney Concert Hall

The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Vocal Ensemble poses before

performing at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.//Lindsey Clarno/Contributed

The vocal ensemble from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School was one of only two high school groups invited to perform composer Eric Whitacre’s musical theater work “Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings” June 25 at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

“Eric Whitacre is a friend of mine,” said Cameron Clarno, director of the SYHS group, “and he asked me if we were interested in being a part of this. We sent in an audition tape, and we were accepted.”

The performance, conducted by Whitacre himself, featured a combined chorus of more than 300 singers, ranging in experience from high school to post-college.

They were gathered from all around the country by Distinguished Concerts International, a New York-based producing organization that arranges choral performances with ensembles they find around the world.

“It was a great learning experience to be around so many good groups,” Clarno said. “It helped our musicianship incredibly.”

“This was the most amazing experience of my life,” said ensemble member Hannah Voorhis, “and I’m sure I’m not the only person that thought so.”

 “Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings” premiered in Germany in 2003, making its U.S. debut at Cal State Northridge a year later. It tells the story of a group of angels who, having been abandoned by their parents for 17 years, are searching for their wings.

The music of “Paradise Lost” reveals a strong Asian influence in addition to combining opera, electronic music, musical theater and cinematic music styles. This performance featured Grammy Award-winning soprano Hila Plitmann in the role of the protagonist, Exstasis.

 Clarno hopes that the experience “will open doors for other performances,” he said.

“This performance was an amazing experience,” said Adam Hallberg, a Swedish exchange student and bass singer in the vocal ensemble. “I hope this merit will give me a solid ground for future singing.”


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