The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

Seifert and Kannankutty find community in Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs

SING YOUR HEART OUT. Seifert and Kannankutty are part of two seperate choirs under the organization. Both seniors have found joy singing alongside individuals who share the same passion for choral music as them. “It’s just really beautiful to see so many people dedicated to something that they love,” Kannankutty said. (Image via @angelicachoirs on Instagram)

McKoy: I’m Clara McKoy, the director of RubicOnline, and you’re listening to a RubicOnline Podcast. Today, I sat down with seniors Anja Seifert and Melina Kannankutty to discuss their experiences with outside of school choirs. Keep listening to hear what they shared.

Can you just introduce yourself, say your name, grade, pronouns, and a little bit about who you are?

Kannankutty: I’m Melina Kannankutty, I’m a senior, and my pronouns are she/her. I like to read and I do choir outside of school. I’ve done it since I was seven. And I’m a swimmer.

Seifert: I’m Anja Seifert, I’m a senior, my pronouns are she/her. I know this is about choir … so I’ve done Summit Singers choir here at SPA for the past two years and then I’ve done this out of school choir, it’s with the organization Angelica Cantanti. And I’ve done that for the past two years as well.

McKoy: So tell me a little bit about your relationship with singing.

Kannankutty: When I was a kid, I would run around the house and I would sing songs, so my mom decided to put me in a summer camp that funneled into this community choir in Bloomington. So I did that … I’ve always really loved it. It brings me a lot of joy. And some of the best friends I have are from that choir.

McKoy: Cool, what’s the choir called?

Kannankutty: Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs.

McKoy: Okay, so you’ve been in the same choir since you were seven?

Kannankutty: Yeah, so it’s a second grade through 18 choir but there’s five different choirs within the organization—an elementary and middle school and then high school.

McKoy: Okay, what do you enjoy about singing?

Kannankutty: I think it’s a really beautiful art form. I think it’s a wonderful way to tell stories. And honestly, I love singing in a choir because making music with so many people and having it sounds so good is just wonderful.

Seifert: You know, that’s actually a really interesting question. For me, singing was always something that I was kind of afraid of, because I know that I can play piano or whatever. But a lot of group activities revolve around singing. Like you’re on a road trip. You sit in the car, you do karaoke night. You know, you’ve gotta sing. I feel like I chose not to attend social events that I could have attended because I was afraid that people would judge me for my singing. So joining choir was kind of like a weird step given that context. But you know, I’ve come to really enjoy it, of course.

I feel like I chose not to attend social events that I could have attended because I was afraid that people would judge me for my singing. So joining choir was kind of like a weird step given that context. But you know, I’ve come to really enjoy it, of course.

— Anja Seifert

I’ve always really enjoyed music—I played French horn in middle school, too. But singing was never a big thing for me. It was actually fear.

The Cantanti singers went through an audition process to sing at the Midwestern ACDA conference. So ACDA is the American Choral Directors Association and they host a national conference, but then they also host like regional conferences. So we went to the Midwestern one, and that was in Omaha, Nebraska. So I think something cool about that is that it wasn’t like me, it wasn’t the people currently in the choir that got us there. The audition process … they took like tapes from the past three years of the choir, and then they decided, ‘Okay, we’re gonna have this choir sing’. So it was the people before us who tried really hard, who sang really well, that got us to this spot.

McKoy: What is it like to be part of such a large community all sharing the same passion for singing?

Kannankutty: It’s really wonderful. A lot of us have been in choir since we were really young. So that in and of itself is really fun. We all know each other, we’re good friends. But beyond that people are choosing to put time and energy into going there every week and into rehearsing outside of practice. We only meet once a week for two to three hours. So it’s it’s just really beautiful to see so many people dedicated to something that they love. And total theater kids … dancing and singing even on the bus to different concerts and stuff.

Seifert: I think something special about the choir that I’m in outside of school is that it’s people doing you know, an extracurricular choir. So it’s people who really truly care about singing. And we only meet two hours a week, so people legitimately practice throughout the week and come to choir prepared to work and prepared to learn. One thing I didn’t realize … I think most people in the choir are musicians outside of choir because we sight read all of our music.

Our choir director, he’s lovely, he really emphasizes “just go for it”. And there’s so many people in the choir … I think it’s 64 people because there’s eight people per voice part. I know that the people there will back me up if I make a mistake.

Kannankutty: The rehearsal process is intense, and it gets more intense as you get older. Like this Friday, I have a five hour rehearsal before the concert, which is on Sunday. We do two concerts every time we have one, so it’s usually—we’re there for eight hours. Concerts are only two hours, but the transition is a lot. And the littles, they switch them out. So we have two elementary school choirs. The youngest goes first in the first concert, and then the second youngest goes first in the second concert.

McKoy: What have you learned about yourself or about anything, with your values, being part of this choir?

Kannankutty: My conductor right now, Philip Brown, he’s amazing. We all love him and he constantly tells us to relate our own life to the music. He doesn’t want us to sing mindlessly. And he wants us to really feel a lot of the things that we’re singing. We’re singing “You Will Be Found” right now from “Dear Evan Hanson, and he makes it very clear that everyone has things in their life that they need. And it’s taught me to be okay with being a little bit more introspective and facing those things that might be harder, that we might want to tamp down.

He’s been at the choir for, I want to say, 13 years. I’ve been there for 11. His wife—she was a lovely person—she died, she had a brain tumor. And his son was two or three at the time. And since we all knew him and we grew up with him, it’s really beautiful when he brings it up and he’s bringing everybody together with a shared memory. I think that’s something I’ll take away: that pain can be horrible, but it can also bring people together.

McKoy: Do you do choir at SPA?

Kannankutty: I do.

McKoy: Okay, and tell me what that’s like. How did you decide to be in both choirs?

Kannankutty: It’s very different, mainly because at ACYC, we’re very dedicated to the music in a sense that you’re choosing to be there. You’re choosing to give up your entire Sunday afternoon to do that every single week. And at school, honestly, I love it because it’s just … you’re going and you’re singing and it’s a break in your day. And it’s not quite as intense. And I think that’s really beautiful too. People are there for fun, and sometimes an art credit, and I love both. I carried through choir in high school because I do really enjoy having a break in my day for music and for less academic stress.

McKoy: Yeah, totally makes sense.

Seifert: I think there’s a really big difference between singing by yourself and singing in a group and a choir. For me it was when I showed up to Summit Singers for the first time. And we sang our warmups for the first time and everyone knew the stuff, everyone was together, and these people are really invested people and actually care about singing. Because it’s 7:20 a.m. … you’re only there if you want to sing. I thought that was really cool because it takes every single person there to make the sound that we produce.

McKoy: Anything else you want to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Kannankutty: Join if you want, it’s a lovely group. They’re always welcome to beginners. If you’re young enough, you do have to audition but they do a great job. They teach theory, they teach reading …

McKoy: Thank you for listening to this podcast. To hear more podcasts, check out the multimedia section of RubicOnline. Again, this is Clara McKoy, Director RubicOnline and today I spoke with Anja Seifert and Melina Kannankutty.

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About the Contributor
Clara McKoy
Clara McKoy, Director of The Rubicon Online
My name is Clara McKoy (she/her). I’m the director of The Rubicon Online. At school, I’m involved in Community Action and Service Club and Senior Class Leadership Council. I love to chat about podcasts, music, and food. I can be reached at [email protected].

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