Lake Washington Lyrica Chamber Singers to perform at fund raiser

The Lake Washington High School Lyrica Chamber Singers practice on Friday morning at the school. The group will perform during the upcoming
The Lake Washington High School Lyrica Chamber Singers practice on Friday morning at the school. The group will perform during the upcoming 'Songfeast Jazz!' fund raising event for the Kirkland Choral Society.
— image credit: Kevin Opsahl/Special to the Reporter

Lake Washington High School Music Director Jim Peterson believes practice will make perfect, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

At 7:15 a.m. before the first period bell rings, Peterson plays the piano and guides the Lyrica Chamber Singers through renditions of “Afternoon on a Hill,” arranged by University of Washington doctoral student conductor Eric Barnum and a medley of George and Ira Gershwin tunes.

“They’re almost pre-professional,” Peterson said. “They’re so easy and fun to work with and they have an incredible spark for music. They are above and beyond when it comes to commitment … they learn very quickly.”

The medley is for the Kirkland Choral Society fund raising event, "Songfeast Jazz!" During the March 13 fund raiser, KCS and Lyrica singers will perform songs by jazz favorites, including Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and the Gershwin’s. KIRO’s Radio talk show personality Dave Ross will be the Master of Ceremonies.

KCS, led by Music Director Glenn R. Gregg, is a 90-member group that has been active since 1988.

“They represent a community of singers who are going to continue the choral tradition, keeping choral music alive … Educating the public,” said Suzanne Kagen, former KCS board member and parent volunteer at LWHS. “(It is also) providing a growth opportunity for the high schoolers. Most of the students will eventually become members of the choral society.”

KCS is donating 10 percent of their funds from the evening’s event to LWHS’s Music Department. Proceeds will be used to pay for scholarships to the Hyak Music festival in Vancouver, B.C. over this Memorial Day weekend.

The Lake Washington select Lyrica Chambers was founded by Peterson in the fall of 1996. Their repertoire includes every genre from classical to pop music.

Lyrica Chamber singers are the parent group of the 90-member Lyrica Vocal Ensemble. Lyrica Vocal Ensemble is routinely awarded Superior ratings (the highest) at the Northlake Regional Large Group Contest and at the State Solo and Ensemble Contests, according to Peterson. This year, Lyrica students will represent their region at Central Washington University in Ellensburg in 13 different divisions from small ensemble to large ensemble to solo categories.

The 30-member Lyrica Chamber Singers do not compete on its own because it’s a performance group of the top students within the vocal ensemble, Peterson said.

The group performed six concerts during the holiday season and raked in approximately $1,500, said Peterson, making them one of the most active choral groups in the Lake Washington School District. They sang at Costco in Kirkland for their holiday opening and the Woodmark Hotel at Carillon Point.

“Instead of different music for every gig, (most of the time) we use one set wherever we go,” said Joshua Sibley, choral member and senior, who has been playing piano and singing since his sophomore year.

Tatiana Kruse, choral member and senior, who has been singing choir since the fourth grade, said, “We have Mr. P, but then there’s that one chance when we all just get to be together."

Kruse said the group is used to singing standards.

“There’s so much more chromaticism going on (in jazz music),” said Kruse, who often times will lead the group during performances as piano player. “It’s very rhythmically challenging … you can do whatever you want with it.”


Starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 13 at East Shore Unitarian Church, 12700 SE 32nd St. Bellevue. For tickets, visit or call 425-296-0612.

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