Chamber Singers do more than just show up and Sing

Owen Egger


Ian Johnson

Bishop Amats Chamber Singers perform at Mass.

Owen Egger, Staff Writer

For most Lancers, school Masses end as soon as Mr. Beck dismisses the assembly and students flood up the gym stairs. For the Chamber Singers however, work is far from over.

After trying to enjoy a not-long-enough lunch this past Monday, 31 of Amat’s most talented singers filter into the muggy Performing Arts Building for class.

For Ms. Jennifer Srisamai, the normally cheery conductor, Monday’s Mass was not a good one.

“So guys, let’s talk about Mass,” she says simply and quietly, but her tone obviously disappointed.

Her words hang like the humidity in the air as voices go quiet and the singers focus on Ms. Srisamai, their teacher, conductor, and greatest critic.

The Bishop Amat Chamber Singers spend Mass days preparing the gym, rehearsing, performing, and recapping, all in the space of three hours. This Monday was no different.

For Ms. Srisamai and her students, the preparation begins far before the day of the Mass.

“The students will usually get the music about a week prior to singing,” Ms. Srisamai said. “We’ll go over the songs once. Twice if they’re lucky.”

Though Ms. Srisamai is active in preparing the gym and equipment for Mass performances, some of the more experienced Chambers Singers are expected to help.

Seniors Aaron Elder and Justin Castellanos and junior Martin Figueroa are charged with setting up equipment for performances.

“[We] get out of class early, come to the PAB, take the drum system over,” said Aaron Elder, this year’s only four-year Chamber Singers member. “Then we help Ms. Srisamai with microphones and whatever she needs.”

For this particular Mass, the Chamber Singers had class after, and Ms. Srisamai was quick to point out some mistakes. However, she felt like the timing allowed them more focus.

“Since they had already been singing we skipped our normal warmups,” she said. “They just got their voices going and their brains focused on music.”

The quick pace of the Chamber Singers’ performances is difficult for some to manage.

“Usually on Mass days we perform five or six songs,” senior Ricky Silva said. “We have to memorize and get all those down, make sure we’re up to par with them.”

Other singers felt their individual efforts were just as important as the group’s performance.

“You never know what might happen at Mass,” Figueroa said. “In the end, it all depends on you as a person.”

The Chamber Singers have a quick schedule and a conductor who describes herself as a taskmaster. But they feel the experience is worth the work.

“There’s no doubt I wanted to come back this year” said Silva, who began singing last year. “The people and the atmosphere of the Chamber Singers brought me back.”