Our talented singers and musicians are branching out all over Europe and North America. Because of the school's outstanding reputation, many institutions of higher education are beginning to seek out our graduates. One such graduate, Tona Yost, stands out among the most talented and promising vocalists as a freshman at the University of Southern California.
While a student chorister at The Madeleine Choir School, Tona realized her vocal potential as something she wanted to pursue beyond her elementary and middle school days. Tona became a member of the choir at MCS in the fifth grade and pursued private voice lessons in the years following. Her dedication to choral music was further fueled through the experience of the Choir School's international tours and opportunities to perform on the bigger stages like the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera as she immersed herself in music. The joy and beauty that making music brings to the world was immediately clear to her as concertgoers at The Cathedral of the Madeleine praised her and her fellow choristers.
"The choir school gave me the opportunity to broaden my mind," says Yost. "The international tours gave us experiences that young people don't get very often. We toured Italy when I was in sixth grade. Not only were we seeing the historical places we were learning about in school but we were singing in some of those same historic venues."
She continued as an adult member of the Choir of the Cathedral of the Madeleine during her high school years and recalls, "I was fortunate enough to return to Italy on a second tour and I was amazed to not only see these incredible places again, but also amazed at what I had missed seeing the first time around. These experiences really expanded the scope of how we thought about music. Performing in Europe, you see that your performance and hard work really are a part of your dedication to something outside of yourself."
Tona's opportunities, however, are not limited to the arts as she considers the cross-disciplinary path of a double-major in Biology and Music in Vocal Performance. The academic rigor that Tona experienced at the Choir School set her on this path early, as it prepared her for the International Baccalaureate program at West High School and ultimately gave her a choice between USC and six other acclaimed institutions of higher education.
Her early years at the Choir School inspired her to put in the extra time and hard work that developed her talents. That dedication has paid off time and time again. As a student chorister at MCS, Tona was selected to perform with the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera several times including A Mid Summer Night's Dream, The Grapes of Wrath, Carmina Burana, Hantzel and Gretel, and Bernstein's Mass.
In her high school years Tona continued her dedication to vocal arts through voice lessons, summer programs and an invitation to perform as an adult vocalist with Utopia Early Music, a group of local professional musicians focused on historically informed performances of medieval, renaissance, and baroque music.
Today Tona contemplates her options and possibilities for the future and remains intensely engaged with her passion for music. As a member of the Chamber Singers of USC Tona recognizes that she is now facing a new level of competition, but she remains confident that she has prepared herself to compete with the best.
"I am having a great time connecting with other musicians and composers. As I connect with these students and faculty members it inspires me to keep studying music theory and keep exploring my own opportunities," exclaims Tona.
When asked to summarize what The Madeleine Choir School experience did for her, Tona left no hesitation in her response, "The Madeleine Choir School fed my love of music through the full immersion; gave me a strong foundation through rigorous academics; taught me the value of my dedication to hard work; broadened my mind, not only through the music and academics, but opportunities to travel and perform." And lastly, and seemingly the most impactful to her, "The Madeleine Choir School showed me that music is a way for her to give back, a dedication to something beyond just myself."
Wrtitten and published October 2013 by Matt Kitterer