This weekend in Salt Lake City, Kyle Gabriel of Valencia High School will join students from across the country to sing with the High School National Honor Choir at the yearly convention of the American Choral Directors Association. He was chosen after successfully auditioning for the Southern California regional choir and the all-state honor choir. Of 3,300 students who auditioned nationally for this honor, 339 were selected to go to Salt Lake City. Valencia High School choral director Megan Arthurton has had 10 students selected for the regional honor choir in her career and five students selected for the all-state honor choir. This is the first time a student from Valencia High School has been selected for the national honor choir.
Name: Kyle Gabriel
School: Valencia High School
Hometown: Yorba Linda
How did you get involved in singing/music? I have been singing informally for as long as I can remember, but my first choral experience was as a seventh-grader when I had to choose an elective. While I had been playing the piano since I was 6 years old, I discovered that I really had a greater passion for vocal music. After hearing Valencia’s high school choir perform at a concert, I was inspired to continue in the choir program.
What is your favorite song to sing? Who is your favorite musical artist? I currently sing music that ranges from classical opera to jazz to contemporary pop. I am adding musical theater to my repertoire as well as original songs that I have written. My favorite song to sing is “Amazing Grace” as it is a timeless classic. It’s expressive and can be sung with varied vocal stylizations. My favorite musical artist is They Might Be Giants as they are unmatched in their creativity and versatility, having written everything from their own albums to music for TV shows and movies.
Who have been your influences? Did you have a mentor in your development as a singer? If so, how did they help you? I remember my dad always singing around the house and exposing me to his hundreds of jazz albums, which I appreciate much more now than I did at the time. My choir director, Megan Arthurton, has really helped me learn to push myself outside of my comfort zone as a singer. She has given me opportunities for artistic growth and encouraged me to audition for honor choirs and competitions. In addition, my vocal coach, Leeav Sofer, has not only taught me vocal techniques, but has been instrumental in helping me develop my skills and confidence as a performer.
What inspires you? I am inspired by the people around me, the people in my life. My vocal coach leads a band and teaches vocal music at the Colburn School of Music. He has shown me that music can be both a passion and a career, inspiring me to make my own footsteps on a nontraditional path and pursue what I am most passionate about. I am also inspired by the many conductors I have had the privilege to work with. Each has a unique style of conducting, and I have been able to learn something new from each one. I aspire to reach their level of success.
Other than music/singing, are you involved in any other activities? If yes, what are they? I have been an active Boy Scout for that past nine years. I am currently a Life Scout working toward attaining the highest rank of Eagle. My Eagle project involves making renovations to the school’s choir room because I want to give back to the program that has made such a huge difference in my life. In addition to my choir activities at school, I am rehearsing to perform the lead role in the school’s production of “Snoopy: the Musical.”
What do you get out of singing? Having been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at an early age, I have always found social interaction to be especially challenging. Music is a means to express myself in a way that I can’t with words alone.
How do the arts figure into your long-term goals? It is my goal to attend a university to study vocal music education and performance. In addition to teaching vocal music, I would like to perform, conduct choirs and compose/arrange music. It is important to me to gain knowledge and experience that I can pass on to others.
What is the best advice you have received? The best advice I have received is to be myself. It may seem cliché, but after many years of trying to fit into social norms, I can now accept my quirks and appreciate being unique.
Do you have any other thoughts about being a singer that you would like to share with us? I am very fortunate to be in a school district that values music education. Participating in the vocal music program at Valencia High School has made a huge difference in my life and in my future. It has allowed me to make new friends and work with my peers who share the same passion for music. I have had many opportunities to develop my skills as a singer and to become confident that I want to pursue a career in music.