Kevin Padworski: First Impressions of CA singers

What intrigued you about the position of Vocal Music Director at Colorado Academy?

 I was fascinated by CA’s reputation in Colorado. I knew already the facilities were terrific, because CA had hosted All-State Choir auditions. CA has a long history of supporting the arts and emphasizing that art is equal to academics and athletics. I was excited about the opportunity to see the choir culture at CA and discover what new ventures students might want to try, including jazz choir, a cappella, and pop choir.

What was your first impression of CA?

 I was very pleased with the respect students showed to me. They were eager to see what choir was going to look like going into the future. I felt like it would be a joy to see how choir might evolve with these students.

What choirs do you have this year?

I have a Sixth Grade Choir, a combined Seventh and Eighth Grade Choir, the Upper School Chamber Choir, and Chanteurs, which is an audition-based group. I am also the pianist and vocal coach for the Musical Theater course alongside Maclain Looper and the pianist for the combined Fourth and Fifth Grade Choir.

The Fourth/Fifth Grade Choir meets before school! And you are coming in to accompany them?

Yes, it’s so great! Mrs. Bartel has 40 students in that group. I’m there because I want more facetime with these young up-and-coming singers, because they are the future at CA.

What kind of music are your groups performing?

 We are experimenting with all sorts of choral genres. At the most recent assembly where the Chamber Choir performed, we performed a pop song by Andra Day, “Rise Up,” and a piece by Giuseppe Pitoni from the 16th century Italian Renaissance, “Cantate Domino.” We also sang “Shosholoza,” which is so popular in South African culture that it is often referred to as South Africa’s second national anthem. That’s a wide variety of musical forms, and our students were engaged in every one of them. They are quickly eating up and digesting music from different cultures.

What’s your impression of CA singers?

These students are so capable. To me, music is a language, and CA singers are eager to enhance their music literacy by reading music notation. They are coming to me with ideas—bringing the sheet music—and asking, “Can we try this one?” That’s so exciting to see.

What’s coming up in the future?

I would like to see us singing off campus—caroling at the Botanic Gardens and singing at Anschutz Medical Campus. Perhaps, we might even participate in a Choral Festival for high school singers around the globe. We have already been invited to festivals in the United States, Italy, and Scotland. Singing with a large ensemble from all over the world helps young people understand choral culture from a global perspective.

Now that you are here, what do you think of CA students?

They are witty and humorous. They are willing to stretch themselves and try new things. They understand that our goal is excellence, and they want to get there. Like me, they believe that if you are going to do something, you should do it excellently.