In this show – Jannelle shines a spotlight on the Immaculate Heart of Mary & Precious Blood #childrenschoir – two separate groups which were joined by their common Choir Director, Pete Avendano.
Choir Director Pete Avendano starts by talking about the birth of IHMC Choir in 2012 when they competed in the World Choir Games. And then he started forming other choirs within the area, which gave birth to Precious Blood Choir. He says it is rare for two groups to join together, although it’s done upon the discretion of the Choir Director. In this case, since he is the director for both, he decided to combine both groups.
The group rehearses separately, but comes together for competitions and major performances within the United States and around the world. He says that the goal is to get groups together, to allow young choir members to experience competing and performing.
Avendano, himself, was a member of a children’s choir at Santo Domingo Parish Church in the Philippines and through that got the opportunity to travel the world, competing and performing. He says his dream is to enable his young students to experience the same.
He proudly shares the highlights for IHMC choir which includes traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio for the World Choir Games in 2012. The following year, they joined the Pacific International Children’s Choir Festival in Eugene, Oregon; then off to San Francisco; and Carnegie Hall, in New York. In 2015, after combining IHMC with Precious Blood Choir, the group went to Rome, Italy, to sing for Pope Francis at the Vatican.
And then in 2019, when this feature was filmed, the group was getting ready to join the Canterbury Cathedral International Children’s Choir Festival in London, United Kingdom.
Avendano shares that his utmost focus is for his students to work together, in order to achieve the best sound they can produce, no matter whether they are competing or performing. And he always encourages his student to do their best. He further shares that he actually considers all his students, his children, especially since some of them started with him when they were in 3rd grade, and now they are actually going off to college. And he gets emotional when he says he feels blessed to be able to have this kind of opportunity to mentor. He ends the interview by saying that he will be doing this until he “cannot sing and until he cannot speak anymore.”
He also extends his gratitude to the supporters of the children’s choir program at IHMC and Precious Blood, because “without them, this would not be possible.”
In segment 2, Mrs. Allyson Smith, the Principal of IHM Parish School, joins us to share her thoughts. And she starts off by saying that they used to refer to the choir as “the little engine who could.” And now she says the students have come a long way and she is very proud, not just of IHMC, but also of Precious Blood students. And how the two schools in the #archdiocesofLosAngeles are working together and sharing resources.
Despite the accolades, Mrs. Smith also discusses the struggles of the group – foremost of which is financial difficulties. While people think that being a private school, they should have enough funds, Catholic inner city schools actually have low enrollment because they have to compete with public schools and charter schools that charge no fee. Nonetheless, she says convincing parents to have their children join the choir, is not an issue because the parents see how “good” the choir is and that it provides an out-of-campus enrichment in their children’s lives. She goes on to remind other parents who are not convinced that the future of their children does not solely depend on their academic performance. And that joining extra-curricular programs like music, helps children become life-long learners and critical learners.
In the 3rd and 4th segments, some of the students join us and talk about their experiences – how they started shy and scared; and then developed confidence practice-after-practice. Some of the children who spoke have been with the choir for 10 years and are now off to college. And they credit the choir for teaching them diligence and patience; and forming their work ethic.