New Director, New Choir

Big changes under John VanWagoner’s leadership


Kailey Mulcahy

John VanWagoner directing the choir at the Junior Class Mass last Thursday.

A lot of things changed at the beginning of the school year, including for the JD choir. With a new director, John VanWagoner, heading up the program, a lot of new and exciting changes are taking place.

Junior Audrey Tita-Munoz leads the class in a daily vocal warm up. (Olivia Thomas)

“Considering that we are in the middle of a pandemic, I feel great about what we’ve been able to accomplish,” says VanWagoner. “I am encouraged by the love the students have for music and the support we receive from administration which hopefully will translate into a much bigger choral program,” he continues.


Choir has been different from years past in a lot of ways. “For one, we have a different teacher who has a different style of teaching and music,” says junior Audrey Tita-Munoz, who has been in choir her whole high school career. “Mr. VanWagoner is a good director…  I really like that he lets us put our own spin on the music by making our own harmonies and giving ample solo opportunities,” she continues. “Secondly, so much has changed with Covid. Masks really affect singing in the volume, strength, and air flow,” Tita-Munoz finishes.


From left to right: Grace Sims, Audrey Tita-Munoz, Paola Severo, Olivia Thomas

Despite the challenges with the virus, 4 members of the choir still competed and won in this year’s Utah Shakespeare Festival, small madrigal division. Juniors Audrey Tita-Munoz, Grace Sims, Olivia Thomas, and senior Paola Severo virtually performed their 16th century choral piece, “Beauty is a Lovely Sweet”, and took home first place. “I was so shocked when we won,” says Tita-Munoz. “I didn’t expect it, to be completely honest. It was a lot of fun to do with my friends and I’m honored.”


While Tita-Munoz, Sims, and Severo have been in choir for several years, there are also many new faces in choir this year. “I like choir a lot,” says new freshman Jazmin Asmar. “I’ve felt very welcomed and I enjoy it very much,” she continues. “I hope that we can actually not wear masks next year,” Asmar finishes. All the choir members share this sentiment, as VanWagoner also says, “I hope that we can eventually remove our masks to sing so everyone can truly hear the talent that is in the JD Choir.”

The JD Choir singing 'Dona Nobis Pacem' at Junior Class Mass.


Powering through the pandemic, with VanWagoner leading the way, the choir is working hard on a lot of new projects. “We have been working diligently on music for mass,” VanWagoner states, “as well as on music for our Christmas Concert that takes place (virtually) on December 23th,” he continues. With all these new events popping up, the JD Choir is always looking for room to improve, including with your feedback, so be on the lookout for more great things from them.

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