Julie Amacher, Classical MPR
iSing Silicon Valley Here I Stand (Innova)
"The sky's the limit. Once they're so well trained, you know, at such a young age, they are such good sight readers. They're really hungry for increased challenge in music. My upper level class it's like driving a Ferrari. It's a teacher's dream to teach girls who are so capable."
Jennah Delp Somers is the founder of iSing Silicon Valley. It's a choral education organization based in Silicon Valley that began in 2013. Its mission is to champion girls from first grade through high school, and to help them explore, create and collaborate through music.
After winning an international competition in Germany, Jennah decided they should capitalize on that excitement by releasing their first recording titled, Here I Stand.
Recently, I spoke with Jennah, and one of the members of iSing, soprano Dana Abbo.
"We teach the girls that to really make music, you have to be whole self. And that means engaging your mind, your heart, all of your skills and all of your knowledge. And when you perform that way, like so many performers that we admire, it can have a profound effect on your on yourself, your development, your present, your future. It can be really life changing."
Let's talk about how the recording came together? Were you part of that, Dana?
"Yes, a senior at that time."
What that was like for you?
"I remember some of our very first rehearsals, Jennah would write lyrics and we'd decide together as a group how we wanted to phrase and shape each line and where we thought the text stress should be. That's not typical for a youth ensemble, so I really feel like every single one of us has a deep attachment to what this is, and that comes back to girls feeling ownership and feeling like we have something to share — that's really valuable.
'Only in Sleep' is one of my favorite pieces. The text is powerful. All of us were touched by poem in some ways about growing up and memories from childhood. For seniors, especially, as we thought about leaving iSing it was meaningful. We talked about the text and which lines and words we wanted to bring out."
Jennah, there are several special commissions on this new recording, what role does commissioning new pieces serve as a strategy for iSing?
"On this album, you know, the girls were able to...we commissioned an arrangement of a piece about gun violence. That really hit home. There was a school shooting that year and when singing about it you can hear our anger in that track — 365. And we needed to sing that. That's just not the type of piece that's readily available for treble choirs. So this is part of our mission is to, you know, expand the repertoire not just for iSing, but for lots of treble choirs out there."
Jennah Delp Somers and Dana Abbo, on iSing Silicon Valley's new release.
To hear the rest of my conversation, download the extended podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.