While there are few things that make for a better Saturday morning than to start the day with a stack of pancakes, there are three things that can make that even better:
1) Have the pancakes made with a homemade buttermilk recipe that was used by the legendary Burbank Barron’s Family Restaurant for 40 years.
2) Be serenaded by award-winning choirs while slathering the butter and pouring the syrup.
3) Know that you are supporting one of the top public school music programs in the country.
The quad of John Burroughs High School recently saw all of those elements come together in a deliciously harmonious consolidation as the school’s Vocal Music Association staged their annual Pancake Serenade fundraiser.
Under the direction of expert pancake-maker Connie Barron Trimble, late of the aforementioned eatery, batter was poured, cooked and served before another expert in his field, Brendan Jennings, the director of vocal, welcomed the assemblage.
“We are very excited about our 2023-24 season which will showcase dance, the classics, and Broadway,” said Jennings, who heads up the nationally acclaimed music program which features seven highly accomplished performing ensembles, a cutting-edge technical theater program and nearly 300 students.
“This year we have some great talent that we are looking forward to sharing in our performances and with you today,” he said before turning to the students who make up Sound Waves for the morning’s first performance.
An intermediate mixed choir that was originally formed as a non-competitive concert choir, Sound Waves began competing in the 1996-97 season and has since become one of the top choirs in their division.
Last week’s fundraiser, chaired by Kristi Dadekian, was made possible by the association’s President Lesli Bjork, Executive Vice President Justin Worsham, First Vice President Amy Goulet, Second Vice President Elisa Hemingway, Recording and Corresponding Secretary Tanya Whitford, Treasurer Jackie Khitikian, Financial Secretary Brianna Strobl, and Bookkeeper Michelle Hurst.
“This event and all of our fundraising efforts are vital to maintaining our vocal music program and, this spring, will help fund our advanced choirs, Sound Sensations and Powerhouse, to compete in Richmond, Virginia,” said Bjork.
Explaining that the lion’s share of the program’s funding comes from parents, family members and alumni, Bjork went on to say that this year fundraising outside of their usual core of support will be vital.
“So many of our parents and alumni members work in the film and television industry, or for businesses that rely on production taking place,” said Bjork. “This year, many of our supporters are strapped for funds with the writers and actors out on strike. For many of our families who usually donate funds, this year is a challenge, and that makes the association’s fundraising efforts so much more important.”
The VMA will officially kick off their season next month with “Burroughs on Broadway!” which is one of the four major shows they present annually.
This traditionally well-attended show will include highlights from popular Broadway productions in a cabaret-style performance featuring each of VMA’s award-winning choirs: the aforementioned Sound Waves, the advanced mixed choir Powerhouse, the advanced women’s choir Sound Sensations, and the intermediate women’s choir Decibelles. The show will also feature student solos, small ensembles, dance performances and audience interaction.
Presenting two matinees and two evening performances, “Burroughs on Broadway!” will take to the boards of the JBHS Auditorium on Oct. 20, 21 and 22. Each performance will offer a pre-show VIP reception that will include hors d’oeuvres at a “mocktail party,” which will include meet-and-greet opportunities with VMA students and ambassadors, premium seats for the performance, and coffee and dessert service during intermission.
Since it was established in 1979, the Burroughs Vocal Music Association has become one of the top public school music programs in the country. The program is designed to make students marketable and successful in many areas of the arts and in life by providing high-quality performing arts training with a focus on vocal technique, dance fundamentals, music theory, performance skills through directed technique classes and the mastery of performance material.
To learn more about the John Burroughs Vocal Music Association, funding opportunities, or to get tickets for any of their four 2023-24 shows and VIP receptions, visit jbhsvma.com.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.
First published in the September 23 print issue of the Burbank Leader.