The Pitman High School Madrigals had just 20 minutes to rehearse before their final audition Monday, but that didn’t stop them from winning the Foster Farms Bowl “Oh Say, Can You Sing?” contest. Thanks to their victory, the 22-member choir has been awarded the opportunity to sing the national anthem in front of 70,000 frenzied football fans before the upcoming bowl game at Levi’s Stadium.
“Monday was a really rewarding day for me as a teacher,” said PHS choir instructor Yohan Partan. “This is a very coherent group, and they’re very responsible. They sing very well together, so we decided to just give this a shot.”
The PHS Madrigals are an elite group of vocalists who are held to high standards, said Partan, such as memorizing sheet music quickly and undergoing rigorous training. The Madrigals often perform the national anthem at sporting events, conferences and school district symposiums, but their upcoming performance at the Foster Farms Bowl will be unlike any performance they’ve done so far.
“We do a lot of activities together, so I think that’s helped them bond,” said Partan. “I think they will be nervous — they were nervous at the audition. But, I’ve always told them being nervous is part of the process, and if they aren’t nervous they should be worried.
“I think they’ll have a great time singing in front of the crowd.”
The Madrigals’ extra discipline came in handy during their audition in San Francisco. Having just learned that the group was selected as a finalist for the competition on Thursday, Partan was forced to throw together a last-minute trip to the Bay Area for the Madrigals’ final audition. The hectic scramble to ensure there was enough funding for the trip left the choir little time to rehearse, save for 20 minutes before their final judgment.
That 20 minutes of rehearsal was just enough, as the Madrigals competed against 10 other finalists from the Bay Area and Central Valley at their live audition and came out on top. A panel of judges that included 49ers defensive end Dennis Brown and FOX Sports Play-by-Play Announcer Joe Davis, made the decision.
In addition to winning a spot at Levi’s Stadium to sing the national anthem, the Madrigals were also able to choose a charity of their choice to be gifted 1,000 meals from Foster Farms. The choir selected United Samaritans Foundation in Turlock to receive the donation, which also received a donation last year thanks to the contest’s 2016 winner, Turlock High School student Felisha Dias.
“As a teacher, we get asked about real world application, and this was sort of a perfect outcome — giving back to the community through our performance,” said Partan.
The Madrigals recently participated in the Better Together concert, a show where instead of purchasing tickets, attendees donated a bag of food for those in need. The concert raised a total of over 5,000 pounds of food, and the group is eager to give back once again thanks to their talent.
“This contest teaches them great values: gratefulness, thankfulness and donating back to the community,” said Partan. “And, it shows them that they don’t have to necessarily pitch in financial resources. I think that’s invaluable, real world experience.”
Next, the Madrigals will travel to the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara on Dec. 27, where they hope to wow the crowd and get the game started on a good note with their rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The 2017 Foster Farms Bowl will feature a contest between the Arizona Wildcats and the Purdue Boilermakers. The game will be televised live on Fox with a 5:30 p.m. kickoff. Foster Farms will donate one meal to local hunger relief organizations for every Foster Farms Bowl ticket purchased. For more information about the game and tickets, visit www.FosterFarmsBowl.com.