Steve Mendoza: Classical music rocks my world |

Steve Mendoza: Classical music rocks my world


Music is my passion. Having always been an avid listener and then a performer, I feel fortunate to live in such a culturally diverse community where so many outlets exist to feed our creativity.

From live theater to art and to music of all genres, we’re truly blessed to have so many choices for fulfillment. Personally, I was influenced in large part by ’60s and ’70s rock and blues, and have thoroughly enjoyed performing as lead singer for the last 18 years with my bandmates in our rock/blues combo, The Sons of Boogie.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to audition for and then join the Sierra Master Chorale as a tenor. For those unfamiliar with this group, it is a community choir of 60-plus singers and is part of the InConcert Sierra family. InConcert Sierra is a nonprofit, world-class, classical and choral music presenter here in Western Nevada County.

My experience with classical music to that point was somewhat limited, and I admit to some trepidation during my first rehearsals with the chorale, as performance expectations are high. However, I was welcomed with open arms and received great support from my fellow tenors and the group at large.

My appreciation for classical music began to ramp up as my confidence grew. I initially thought that rock and classical genres were so disparate that there was little opportunity for synergy between the two. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

The skills I’ve developed with the Sierra Master Chorale complement my rock performance in many ways. Controlled breathing, active listening, improved sight reading and structured rehearsals are just some of the benefits.

The chorale typically has 13 weeks to learn a complete 90-minute classical program with 60 other singers and a full orchestra, so it is vital to make the best use of rehearsal time. In this regard, structured rehearsals at the hands of professional conductors such as Ken Hardin and Alison Skinner are invaluable.

I’ve managed to adapt all of these disciplines to my rock world with great results, and my musical horizons have increased immensely due to the fusion of these two different genres.

The chemistry and camaraderie I feel with both groups is an essential part of my life. It has been sorely missed during the pandemic, and I look forward to recovery and performing in 2021.

To my fellow singers out there, I would highly recommend taking up choral music to expand your musical horizons in a positive way. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Steve Mendoza has lived in Nevada County for 40 years, and is a member of the Sierra Master Chorale and a board member of InConcert Sierra.

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