The young members of Chamber Bravura, dressed in their festive holiday sweaters, prepare to perform in Balboa Park. (courtesy photo)
Choir delights with unique sound
Local a cappella choir Chamber Bravura has performed at such venerable establishments as Carnegie Hall and Disneyland, and represented the United States in the 2017 Australian International Music Festival.
Seeing a need for an a cappella choir for middle school and high school students, Scripps Ranch local Katherine Girvin founded Chamber Bravura in 2012. The choir has quickly become world renowned for its sound and talent in the past six years.
Chamber Bravura is comprised of 35 dedicated young performers ranging in age from 10 to 18. Girvin said the wide range in age allows for ease in transitioning parts as middle-school aged boys’ and girls’ voices mature.
“Most people would think it would be a huge impediment to have younger voices and older voices, but I find it incredibly rewarding for the group,” Girvin said. “The benefit of having such a large range is that, specifically for the boys, they can start in one area and finish in another. It makes for a nice transition as older members go to college and the younger boys move from tenor to bass.”
The choir will welcome anyone interested in joining but requires dedication and commitment. Chamber Bravura members meet weekly, year round and practice privately for upwards of two hours a day to perfect the music. The group routinely learns more than 60 songs a year to perform for both private and public audiences. Girvin said the songs are at a college level of expertise and span everything from classical music to the popular a cappella band Pentatonix covers.
Oliva Kuykendall, a high school senior and Chamber Bravura member for six years, said her favorite piece to perform was Eric Whitacer’s “Alleluia.” Kuykendall shared that the piece is split into 12 parts and is nine minutes in length.
“This is one of the most stunning choral works I have ever heard or had the pleasure to learn and sing. The harmonies in this song are so challenging and dissonant yet so beautiful, and I always feel so accomplished and proud after performing this piece,” Kuykendall said.
Chamber Bravura sustains its level of expertise with the aid of generous donations and paid performances. While the group historically makes a trip abroad to perform, Girvin said the group agreed to forgo a trip in 2019 in order to properly save for a larger trip to Asia in the summer of 2020.
The group is in the midst of its busiest time of the year with the holidays and multiple performances already in the books.
For Hannah Mora, a high school senior and Chamber Bravura member for five years, the hard work and dedication is what sets this group apart from other a cappella groups.
“It is easy for big a cappella groups to have members hide behind other peers, but our director really makes sure that we all know our parts so that we don’t rely on just a few people,” Mora said.
Chamber Bravura is well known in a cappella circles and has not lost a single competition. Girvin said the focus of all the success should be on the choir members.
“I get to show up and work with the most amazing people – who just happen to be children – every week,” she said. “They have made me a better person. They are uniquely musically strong and they are uniquely wonderful people.”
For more information on the choir, including links to listen to the group’s unique sound, visit chamberbravura.org.