Eastlake’s Jacob Berg sings his way toward stardom
October 2, 2013
Jacob Berg isn’t interested in stealing the limelight. When it comes to singing, the Eastlake High School junior simply likes to blend in.
“I like singing, but I don’t really like to solo sing,” Berg said. “I don’t want to go out there and do a big song by myself. I like the idea of a group – big harmonies.”
Berg will have the chance to do what he loves on one of the biggest stages imaginable for a high-school student. The National Association for Music Education selected Berg in July for its All-Nation Mixed Choir, a 350-member all-star ensemble that will meet Oct. 27-30 in Nashville, Tenn.
“It’s a really big deal for me,” Berg said. “I didn’t expect to get in at all.”
Berg, who moved from Colorado to Sammamish about a year ago, was selected for the 2012 all-state and all-Northwest choirs. He received information about the all-nation choir in March, and had to submit materials by the end of April. It almost didn’t happen, explained Andrey Spichak, his choir teacher at Eastlake.
Vocalists have to perform two scales, various exercises and “America the Beautiful” for their national audition, Spichak said.
“After a lot of procrastinating, it was like, ‘OK, Jacob, we’ve got to make a recording,’” Spichak said. “So we made a recording, then we went over the requirements again, and we saw, ‘Oh, no, they don’t need an audio recording. They need a video recording.’”
In Nashville, Berg will be one of about 670 music students from across the country performing at NAfME’s Oct. 30 gala concert. A concert band, symphony orchestra and a jazz ensemble will join the mixed choir at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel’s Presidential Ballroom. The audience figures to number in the thousands.
Before the performance, the students will spend three days immersed in rehearsals. They’ll work with some of the top instructors in the country, including Dr. Peter Boonshaft, an instrumental professor at Hofstra University in New York; Miriam Burns, music director and conductor of the McLean (Va.) Orchestra; Dr. Rollo Dilworth, a choral director at Temple University in Philadelphia; and Rodney Whitaker, a highly-regarded recording artist and jazz instructor at Michigan State University.
“If it’s anything like the all-Northwest (choir), we’ll be practicing all day long, with maybe an hour-and-a-half for meal time,” Berg said.
Berg sings bass, and said his deep voice comes naturally. He’s unsure of his aspirations with music, although he’s a big fan of classic-rock bands like Journey and is thinking of forming his own group.
He’s a busy teenager who works part-time at the Papa Murphy’s pizza restaurant in Sammamish, and in his spare time, he loves to play video games.
Berg was waiting last week to receive his all-nation music, and Spichak said it figured to be “quite challenging” based on his observations of various all-state pieces.
“But it’s fun,” he said. “It’s kids from all 50 states, and of course they have good ear skills, and they learn quickly. And they have the best in the nation choir directors.”
Reach Reporter Neil Pierson at npierson@SammamishReview.com or 392-6434, ext. 242.