The Los Angeles Pierce College Choir had the distinguished honor of performing Memorial Day weekend with the US Air Force Band at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Under Garineh Avakian, Pierce professor of music and choir director, the Pierce College Choir participated in the National Memorial Day Choral Festival May 26-30. The festival was a musical tribute saluting America’s military and fallen heroes, set in the Concert Hall in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The Pierce College Choir sang “America, the Dream Goes On” in the Memorial Day parade, part of which was televised on PBS. The choir sang 14 patriotic songs, including “God Bless America,” which featured 63 Pierce College singers.
Avakian said, “I am proud and humbled to experience this remarkable opportunity with my students. It is a complete honor and joy to be invited and supported to share this experience through music for our country.”
The invitation was extended by the United States Air Force and American Veterans Center through Music Celebrations International after an application process that began in summer of 2021.
The choir is comprised of 63 Pierce College students who traveled to Washington, D.C., to sing. Six senators from the Associated Student Organization, Interim Pierce College President Ara Aguiar and a handful of faculty and staff from Pierce were also in attendance.
“The Music Department at Pierce is growing and thriving with our many performing ensembles like the Symphonic Band, Studio Jazz Band and the choir. It is the students that make our program great, along with the infectious energy and talent of our devoted music instructors,” Avakian said.
Music performed by the choir ranges from classical and musical theater to jazz and medleys. They perform two concerts a year, and have participated in choral festivals such as the Invitational Community College Choir Festival at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music. The choir also collaborates with many local high schools to engage and inspire students in choral music.
The Washington D.C. trip provided an exceptional performance opportunity for Pierce students, who experienced singing in the Concert Hall of the internationally renowned John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They also got to witness the activities surrounding our nation’s capital during Memorial Day Weekend.
The Pierce Choir worked with one of America’s foremost choral conductors, Craig Jessop, former Lt. Col. in the US Air Force Music Programs, director of the US Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington, D.C. and music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The students rehearsed daily at the Kennedy Center with Jessop and Avakian, performed on Sunday, May 29, and laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery during the National Memorial Day Parade, which was nationally televised.
At a choir rehearsal on campus recently, Pierce College Interim President Aguiar said, “Dr. Avakian, your talent and energy are infectious! You and our Pierce students touch the hearts of our community through music.”
On Sunday, the choir attended the official National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra, and broadcast live on PBS. This Memorial Day Concert finished with a breathtaking fireworks display over D.C. presented by the Presidential Salute Guns Battery of the 3rd United States Army Infantry Regiment.
Between rehearsing and performing, students had the opportunity to visit the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Other sights included visiting the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Recently, the Pierce College Choir was awarded a special recognition certificate from Councilmember of Woodland Hills, Bob Blumenfield, for its commitment to the arts and dedication of bringing community together to enjoy the work of musicians.