Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 25th
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Pitch Perfect

music Sing4YourLifeGold Standard Chorus supports youth music programs with annual concert benefit

It’s actually pretty miraculous what they pull off,” says Alice Hughes, choir teacher and Visual & Performing Arts Chair at Pacific Collegiate School, regarding “Sing For Your Life,” the annual concert benefit put on by the Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus. “And the fact that they’re doing it out of their love for music and a desire to keep music strong in schools—the kids really recognize and appreciate that.”

For the last 10 years, the 20-plus members of Gold Standard have demonstrated their unfaltering support for local choral music programs through the event, which kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 4. The purpose of “Sing For Your Life” is to expose the community to barbershop harmony and other forms of vocal music, and, most importantly, to raise funds for local high schools.

From its modest start with a single high school choir, the benefit has grown to encompass performances by 10 choirs—a total of about 350 students—and has been split into a matinee and an evening show, both held at The Civic Auditorium. This year’s participants include Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel, and Aptos high schools (to name a few), along with a guest quartet, The B-Sides.

“It’s really neat getting to go to the schools after the benefit to give them the checks for the funds they earned through ‘Sing For Your Life,’” notes Jordan Johnson, director of Gold Standard. “Mostly because I know it will support their programs, and allow them to do things they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

Since its inception, “Sing For Your Life” has raised a total of $58,000, one hundred percent of which went directly back to the school choir programs.

Hughes’ choir at Pacific Collegiate has been involved in the benefit for the past six years. They have found that the funds garnered at “Sing For Your Life” make a tremendous difference each year—whether they’re used to purchase new choral music, pay off the royalties to perform certain pieces of music, or otherwise.

“We use the funds to cover the cost of an accompanist, occasionally to buy new uniforms, and especially to alleviate expenses from traveling. It helps cover costs so that every student can participate without having to pay too much out of pocket,” explains Hughes. Plus, “[the students] get to see firsthand that what they work on makes a difference, and that they are part of a larger whole—this event really facilitates that.”

Each participating school receives funds based on the number of tickets they sell to the event. “We have the students only sell tickets,” says Nick Roberto, president of Gold Standard and a former “Sing For Your Life” participant. “We try to take the brunt of the money raising, we don’t want to impose anything on the choirs or their teachers.”

Consequently, it is the members of Gold Standard that seek out sponsors to cover the costs of renting The Civic, buying the music for the grand finale, printing tickets, and anything else required to put on the performance. In years when sponsors don’t cover all of the expenses, Gold Standard members have been known to pay for certain aspects of the production from their personal funds.

“Moving to The Civic really raised the bar, not only in terms of what caliber of show we could put on, but also what we need to do in order to put it on,” explains Johnson. “We’re still a really small organization; right now we are a group of about 20. Realistically if we want to put on productions of this scale every year we need to be something like 50.”

That’s why in addition to helping support local schools, Gold Standard uses “Sing For Your Life” as an opportunity to spread the word about their group and (hopefully) recruit more members. At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping music alive.

“All I can hope is for audience members to walk away saying, ‘Wow, that was incredible, maybe I can do that too,’” says Johnson. “It’s not just a message for the kids in the choir, it’s for everybody in the community, that you can sing too. There’s nothing magical about it, you can learn it, and there are people like us who will help you develop it.” 

“Sing For Your Life” takes place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at The Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15/adv, $20/door. For ticket information, call 218-1771, or visit

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