Tavian Roberts, 12, is a student at the Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland, the only full-time boys’ chorus school on the west coast of North America. The choir school integrates a full academic curriculum with daily musical instruction for boys in grades 4–8. Tavian sings with the choir for the California Symphony’s ’Tis the Symphony holiday concerts, Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek.
California Symphony Orchestra: What’s a typical day like as a student at the Pacific Boychoir Academy?
I get to PBA on my bike in the morning and usually have a few minutes to talk to friends before the first bell. When the bell rings we dress the line, and then go to our first class. We have two academic classes before our first break where you get time to play tag or basketball and talk to friends. The school is pretty fluid because sometimes we have performances, but since everyone knows each other well, you flow naturally from one class to the next.
At lunchtime, if you forget your lunch the teachers will give you some snacks to tide you over. Everyone makes mistakes, and the teachers know that; they are very sympathetic.
After lunch its usually MTV — Musicianship, Theory, and Voice, or Be The Change. Theory class helps you expand your knowledge of music, to learn things you never knew before. Musicianship is a test of your inner ear, it helps you perfect things you already know. Be The Change teaches you how to be a part of a group; sometimes its hard to rely on others and this teaches you how to integrate with the group. PBA is very community-based, it’s one of the school’s strong points. After that period is music. Music is the most important time of our day, where we learn our repertoire. At the end of the day, we pack up our stuff whether its in the trough or our locker, and head home. Except for Fridays; I am part of the Cooking Club that meets after school on Fridays.
CSO: Do you play other musical instruments?
I’ve tried piano and guitar, but I chose my voice after I realized it’s the one instrument that I felt good working on. I like the way I sing!
CSO: What’s the best part of going to school at the Pacific Boychoir Academy?
The best thing about being a student at PBA is that it gives you the chance to be the best singer you can be. No matter where I go in life, these years will always be a big part of me. Singing is the the means to an end; the vehicle that lets you go on a journey to different countries and meet different people.
CSO: What’s the most memorable performance you’ve been a part of with the PBA?
The most interesting performance I’ve ever sung was on my very first tour in Oregon. We went to PicFest — a choral festival. There were so many concerts at that tour, it was so interesting to listen to their music and have them listen to ours. I feel proud about what we presented.
CSO: Any idea what you’d like to be when you grow up?
I would like to be a chef when I grow up. I’m not sure what kind of chef, or if I will have my own restaurant, but I have a passion for culinary things and I’d like to see how that goes.
The Pacific Boychoir Academy joins the California Symphony for the ’Tis the Symphony holiday concerts, Saturday, Dec. 22 at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, where they will sing festive selections with the full orchestra.
Tickets start at $42 / $20 for kids and students under 25 with valid student I.D. at californiasymphony.org or call the Lesher Center Box Office at 925.943.SHOW.