By Ken Martin

WELL DESERVED PRAISE: I am not sure that all the residents of Castro Valley are aware of the fine Music Departments that we have in our schools, particularly in our middle and high schools. I base that on the observation that there were many empty seats at this year’s “Light the Lights” concert. There shouldn’t have been any. Here’s what the non-attendees missed.

The featured performers notwithstanding, the performances given by the Canyon and Creekside Choirs, both singularly and combined, the CVHS Symphonic Band, the CVHS Symphonic Orchestra, and the CVHS A Cappella Choir were an absolute aural and visual delight. The sounds of these great student musicians are second to none, amateur or professional. What’s more, they look like they are having fun performing.

Not overlooking the talent of these students, a large amount of the credit has to go to the unbelievably outstanding music teachers that mold this talent. They are Janet Steidel (Canyon Middle School Choral Ensemble), Jan Gidlund (Creekside Middle School Choir), Cynthia Meyer (CVHS Symphonic Band), Heidi Dahms (CVHS Symphony Orchestra) and Sue Susoeff (CVHS A Cappella Choir). I am in awe of their ability, either collectively or individually, to bring out the best capabilities of these young people and build this great musical organization. If there are awards available, they should certainly be given to this fantastic coalition of teachers and the students.

I had the good fortune to talk to Victoria “Tori” Miller the day after the concert. Tori is a 16-year-old sophomore at CVHS and is in Sue Susoeff’s choir. “I had fun! It was great”, she said of the LTL show. “Ms. Sue is great! We all love her!” No wonder that Ms. Sue (the students name for Sue Susoeff) is able to get the results she does. I have to guess that the relationship that the other teachers enjoy with their pupils is something akin to that of Ms. Sue. The high quality of the students’ performances would indicate that it is.

If you missed the LTL show (and you shouldn’t have), don’t despair. There are other opportunities to see and hear these groups. Here are some: May 15 – Canyon Choral Concert (6th grade); May 18 – CVHS Concerto Concert; May 18 – CVHS Choral Concert; May 24 – Canyon Choral Concert (7th & 8th grade); May 30 – Creekside Choral Concert. All shows are at the Center for the Arts at 7:00 PM.

And there is more: The CVHS Choir also presents a “Pops Concerts” each fall (It was last December) that showcases not only the student’s vocal talents but also their seemingly boundless imagination and energy. These are essentially variety shows that are created, written, produced, directed, and performed by the choir members. These shows are FUN and feature some of the individual singers and dancers (I told you they were multitalented!) from the group as well as the total ensemble. This is great live entertainment so watch for more information upcoming. Put it on your “Don’t Miss” calendar.

WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: It is impossible to mention the “Light the Lights” concert without giving credit to the two great ladies that originated it four years ago, Erma Smith and Terry Liebowitz. Not only do they bring us this outstanding event each year that supports the Center for the Arts, but they are largely responsible for the Center even being here. Our community owes them a great, big “Thank you” for what they have given us.