With Warde choir director Mrs. Lauren Verney-Fink on maternity leave for the first portion of this year, Ms. Anna Deveau-Jalbert has taken the helm of leading three choirs and preparing each group for two performances (including the annual Carillon concert) throughout the first few months of school. I recently got a chance to sit down with Ms. Deveau-Jalbert to ask her about how she’s been enjoying her time at Warde thus far.
Focus: What has been your favorite part working with the Warde Music Department so far?
Ms. Deveau-Jalbert: Probably the caliber of musicians that I’m able to work with which is honestly really high. I’ve worked with a lot of different age groups and levels of choirs and I think these choirs are some of the best I’ve ever worked with in terms of focus, in terms of hardworking behavior, in terms of just tone quality that comes out of the choir…so honestly, just sort of selfishly, my favorite part has been working with such fabulous musicians. And, knowing you’re all still kids, which is crazy, honestly, you guys blew me away when I first got here. Between Chamber Singers, Treble Choir, and Concert Choir, the sound that comes out was like, “Wow, this is what I’m working with; I can’t wait!”
F: Thank you! Also, what’s one thing that you’ll take away from working here?
DJ: For me, it’s provided a lot of experience with the high school level and it’s given me a lot of tools to keep a rehearsal interesting and leading a classroom setting, thinking of what I’m going to take away from it from a teaching standpoint. I will also take away a lot of beautiful music that we’ve made and all of those memories. I’ll always remember “Gate Gate,” just because it was so crazy and we just somehow got it together; I’ll never forget that. I’ll remember a lot of special moments with Treble Choir, in terms of both bonding moments and teaching moments. I’ve had a lot of great memories here.
F: What does Warde’s culture mean to you and how have you seen those values manifest in your time here?
DJ: I went to this school, so I graduated here several years ago, so personally it was very special coming back here to the same choir room with all of the same carpet stains [laughs]. So I’m getting a lot of nostalgia walking through these hallways and it’s quite an experience to be able to go through schooling, go away for a while, and then come back and give back. I loved choir in high school and it’s served as the basis for my love of music and part of the reason I went on to become a music teacher. I’ve noticed a lot of compassion and kindness between students and that seems to be a really strong cultural characteristic, especially with special education students in the choir. There’s a welcoming energy here and I can see it on everybody’s faces: they just love being here. Seeing that encouraging, compassionate, uplifting energy is wonderful and, again, is part of the reason I direct choirs, to instill that nature in everybody through choral singing.
F: That’s great! Last question, this one’s kind of a fun one, what are you most looking forward to for your first Carillon as a Choral Director?
DJ: I am a “veteran” of very intense holiday concerts, in terms of both performing in them and directing them. I once did a performance that was twice as long and just choral music, which involved a lot of technical direction: “you go on, lights over here,” etc. So I’m excited for the dress rehearsals. I know that sounds crazy [laughs] but the rehearsals are half crazy and half fun, and that is the first time that we really get a sense of how everything’s going to go. I’m really excited to hear Chamber Singers sing “O Lux” and bring everybody to a very still, quiet, almost “shivery” place, I’m excited for “Christmas in Sarajevo “at the beginning and its power chords, and I’m excited for “Closing of the Year” at the end! I sang that when I was a kid here and I’m looking forward to ending the concert five times with five different soloists. Those are my highlights and what I’m looking forward to the most.
F: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions and best of luck as Carillon approaches.
DJ: No problem!