Together in Song

In choir, individual voices come together to create a beautiful whole, just like students, instructors, and the supportive community come together to make the Mt. Carmel High School (MCHS) Choir possible. This award-winning program provides a variety of auditioned and non-auditioned choirs for students to explore and develop their vocal talents, as well as gaining experience singing in front of an audience and in competition. We spoke with Terri Josten from the MCHS Choral Boosters about the impact the choir has had in our community.

Q&A with Terri Josten

What choir programs are available at Mt. Carmel High School?
The choral program at Mt. Carmel High School includes the auditioned groups, Classical Vocal Ensemble, and Bel Canto, as well as two other non-auditioned Concert Choirs.

Can you tell us a bit about who leads or directs the choirs?
Marti Martinez received her B.A. in Music Education and M.A. in Education from San Diego State University. She has been teaching choral music since 1991, including 12 years at Meadowbrook Middle School and the rest at Mt. Carmel High School, where she has directed numerous top award-winning choirs throughout the years. As an alumna of Mt. Carmel High School, she finds it particularly rewarding to be teaching at her alma mater. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Martinez has been a member of the San Diego Opera Company, the alto soloist for the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, and is an active soloist for performances in the San Diego area. Mrs. Martinez keeps busy with her three sons and husband of 20 years.

What is your role with the choir, and what does that entail?
I am a member of the MCHS Choral Boosters and the chair of our upcoming 2019 Madrigal Dinner. I have two children in the Classical ensemble and am an ardent admirer of this choir!

What is the most rewarding part of your role? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part is watching these talented high school students perform. The most challenging part for me is organizing the Madrigal Dinner, which is a two-day Renaissance-style event. The planning and execution requires a lot of coordination, time management, and several volunteer hours by dedicated parents. Mrs. Martinez, our choral director, and her accompanist spend several months in rehearsals with their students and for this reason I am dedicated to ensuring the success of the Madrigal Dinner.

How can students join the choir program?
Students need to sign up at the end of each school year when they register for the next year’s classes. Auditions are held each spring for the Classical Vocal Ensemble or the all girls’ Bel Canto choir.

What kinds of experiences can students joining choir expect?
There are opportunities to go on an annual choir retreat to Julian each year, along with a bi-annual trip to festivals in other states such as New York, Hawaii, Colorado, and Florida, as well as competing in choral events around Southern California. The choir hosts three performances every year for the community. We also have an alumni concert in the beginning of each year where we invite past students to share their talent. Students enrolled in the choir program can expect to get a well-rounded introduction to a variety of music from different eras and cultures. Every year for the past 11 years, the department has performed a themed LEGENDS concert with a live band, choreography, and costumes. Recent themes include Music of the ’70s and ’80s, Broadway musicals, and Disney. It has become so popular that the community eagerly awaits this concert!

What are some upcoming events or performances this year?
Our upcoming event is the Madrigal Dinner on Dec. 18 and 19. The Madrigal Dinner is a recreation of a medieval feast complete with king, queen, royal court, and ladies in waiting. Herald trumpets accompany the ceremonial event along with a capella singing and comedic entertainment. Tickets are $35 each or $30 each if you purchase a total of 10 tickets. Please visit our website at to purchase tickets. Your ticket includes a three-course dinner (vegetarian option) along with the entertainment.

At-A-Glance | Mt. Carmel High School Choir

Director: Marti Martinez
Facebook: @mtcarmelchoir

What have been some stand-out performances or moments from the past few years?
Performing the choral music of Ola Gjeilo at Carnegie Hall was a milestone for our choir, and we were honored and delighted that Ola Gjeilo himself accompanied us on the piano. Previously, we have sung with Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridson on the Carnegie Hall stage.

Have the choirs won any awards you’d like to talk about?
The Mt. Carmel Choir’s reputation for excellence includes three performances on the Carnegie Hall stage (2019 being our latest), a Gold Award at every Heritage Festival, and Disneyland’s Candlelight Procession and Ceremony. In 2003, the music department was recognized by the Grammy Foundation as the number three program in the United States, followed by another Grammy in 2005 and 2008. Both Classical Ensemble and Bel Canto have traveled the United States extensively, receiving superior ratings at California Music Education Association, American Choral Directors Association, and Southern California Vocal Association festivals.

Can you tell us about the Mt. Carmel Choral Boosters?
The Choral Boosters include Mrs. Marti Martinez, our choral director, along with a group of dedicated parents, and students from the MCHS choir council.

How do they support the choir program?
The Choral Boosters meets monthly to help oversee the activities of the choir. The board supports the choral director and periodically votes on several issues regarding finance, fundraising, events, trips, and ensuring the choir follows the mission and goals of the organization.

How can the community get involved?
Besides attending our shows, the Mt. Carmel Choral Boosters is accepting donations from the community to sustain our future programs and events for our students. We are a 501(c)(3) organization and your donations are tax deductible. Please contact Marti Martinez at or donate on our website at