Saddleback’s Community Chorale


The department of music presents Saddleback’s community choir performing songs of bravery, courage and sounds of travel in the McKinney Theater

Scott Farthing, Saddleback’s dean of the Fine Arts and Media Technology division, pulled double duty last Tuesday, directing the emeritus music class music performance. The community choir is open to all to join and meets every Tuesday in the department of fine arts. Farthing stated he’s been with the same group since 2005.

Farthing said some members of this choir have been singing at Saddleback since 1976, when the program began. He said the qualifications of some choir members are pretty impressive. 

“It’s a wide breadth of people that are singing, people that have master’s degrees in music. We have one member with a doctorate of music that is singing in this concert.” Farthing said. “We have kind of— this is their first experience singing in the choir. Anyone can join.”

Although the class is recognized as an emeritus class, designed for the older adults, Farthing said the age range for this group is currently 18-85.

“It’s a Saddleback class, Emeritus Music 502 and I think it cost $10.” said Farthing

The passion and commitment of Farthing is visually evident as his enthusiasm radiates throughout his entire body while discussing his joy he experiences from choosing the music for the class. Dean Farthing stated that all choir performances have a central theme. He chooses music for everyone to relate to and he prefers to work with a diverse list of composers to match his diverse fan base and choir members.

“I like to find composure that has been left out of the mainstream for any number of reasons,” Farthing said. “I go through piles of music and envision how a story can be told.”

The task of directing a choir and managing the fine arts department at Saddleback can be a pretty large job for anyone to take on, therefore, Farthing has acquired some help.

As of last year, Dean Farthing hired a second composer, Erin Gerard, who joined him on stage, splitting the job of directing the choir last Tuesday. Gerard said Farthing approached her to split the responsibility of directing the choir.

“He said, ‘I love my choirs and I’m not going to give them up but I would like some help.,’ Gerard said.

Farthing reflects on some of the challenges he’s faced while preparing for Tuesday evening’s performance.

“I had two sopranos this morning that have colds, waiting to find out if they have COVID,” he said. “I had one of my alto’s let me know she needs to get to Colorado to take care of her grandson.”

The music department has a group of loyal fans that have been coming to see their performances for 20-30 years. Barbara Jones felt Saddleback performances are as good as any performance in the large Segerstrom theater, and shared her enthusiasm for the production’s performance.

“I like intimate productions whether it’s plays or –this is the first time I’ve been to a choral production,” Barbara Jones said. “You can’t get a bad seat in a place like this, it’s great!” 

Barbara Jones said she learned of the event’s performance from her companion, Wendy Herder, who said she is on the email list..

“I’ve been on the Saddleback Foundation board,” Herder said. “When my kids were little, there used to be three summer musicals every summer, when Greg Bishop was head of the theater department. I’ve been coming here for 20 years.”

Tiffany Van Tine, choir member and soloist, has been singing with the choir for 12 years and singing for amusement since 5-years-old. 

“My dad was a choir director and I’ve been doing solo work for a long time. “ Van Tine said.

Although experienced, Van Tine admits she too also experiences nervousness.

“There is a second of nervousness then you just breathe through it but by the time we get to our performance most of us know our music so well, it gets to be fun. You get to make music,” Van Tine said.

Van Tine belted out a solo that captivated the entire audience. She held a note so long it warranted applause from the audience. 

The choir piano solo was one of the highlights of the performance as Andrew Van Vlear, a full-time accompanist, took center stage.

“I’ve been playing for 30 years and took classes at Saddleback College,” Vlear said. “I love playing for this choir because Scott picks music that is fun for the pianist. One or two or maybe more I get to play a lot of notes.”

The community choir appears to be a close group viewing each other as family and not fellow students. Michael Certantes, a member of the choir, explains why he enjoys taking this music class.

“I’ve been singing for 13 years in this choir and 15 years total,”  Cervantes said. “It’s a family, a community and it feels like a second home.” 

There is also a day choir class and they seem to support each other and attend each other’s performances. 

Kendrick Ugade and Jalen Gadhi, who attended Tuesday’s performance, raved about the surprise tenor guest soloist.

“We’re in the day choir and are here to support our friends in the night choir,” Gadhi said.

Kendrick Ugade joined in and shared his enthusiasm for the tenor soloist stating he loved the performance. Gadhi agreed with this sentiment.

“It was amazing,” Gadhi said. “I would watch it 1,000 times if I could. The tenor soloist was very powerful.”