With holiday decorations setting the mood, festive foods and
glorious singing by the Gilroy High School Chamber Choir Carolers,
the Gilroy Arts Alliance presented its annual
Angel of the Year Awards
Dec. 7 at the Interim Center for the Arts. Honored at the event
were Arline Silva and Allstate Insurance as Business of the Year,
Clara Fayette as Volunteer of the Year and Phil Robb as Educator of
With holiday decorations setting the mood, festive foods and glorious singing by the Gilroy High School Chamber Choir Carolers, the Gilroy Arts Alliance presented its annual “Angel of the Year Awards” Dec. 7 at the Interim Center for the Arts. Honored at the event were Arline Silva and Allstate Insurance as Business of the Year, Clara Fayette as Volunteer of the Year and Phil Robb as Educator of the Year.
It’s no secret that Robb has maintained an outstanding choral music program at Gilroy High School for 27 years, and with the addition of Christopher High School, the program is growing. Walking into his choir room at Gilroy High School, one can’t help but marvel at the display of pictures, awards and plaques covering the walls, testimonials of 27 years of excellence in choir directing.
On display in both the choir room and his office are mementos from choir trips to Japan, eastern Germany, the Czech Republic and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Before and after school, during break and lunch, you will find his choir room a-buzz with a cross section of kids, many of them athletes, whose common interest in music brings them together.
During the school year, Robb presents four concerts featuring five choirs. The concerts are so will attended that they require two consecutive nights, and each night brings a packed house. This year’s holiday concert featured 210 singers with a men’s choir of 82.
As a high school student, Robb’s goal was to be a guidance counselor. Reflecting on the many former students who have gone on to careers in music, he realizes that he has attained that goal. Four of his former students now sing with the San Jose Choral Project, another is a high school music teacher in Las Vegas and others have performed on stages across the United States.
“It all comes back to me on Facebook,” comments Robb with a bit of a catch in his voice. “I am blessed more than I realize.” He spoke of former students whose own children have been in his choirs and the many parents who come to open house pointing out their pictures on his choir room wall.
A graduate of Westmont College, Robb received his teaching credential at San Jose State University.
He did his student teaching in the Gilroy school district under the tutelage of Dr. Gretchen Vandenburg. Hired as a music specialist by the district in 1981, he taught 4th through 8th grades, riding his bicycle from school to school, carrying a guitar under his arm.
In 1984, Gilroy High School was added to his schedule although he continued to teach both high and junior high until 1995. In 1985, the High Choir program consisted of an auditioned women’s group and a concert choir, but in 1986 Robb added men to the women’s group and Chamber was born. The first Chamber trip was a 24-hour marathon to Sacramento in a van. During the 1988-89 school year, with 19 Chamber singers in tow, Robb made the first of many choir trips to Japan.
Recognized for his quality choral program, Robb is highly respected among his peers and is a popular guest conductor and clinician on the West Coast. When questioned about highlights of his career, he spoke of several: Having his students asked to sing for the American Choral Directors Association in 1994 and getting a standing ovation in front of his colleagues and three of the composers, having his Concerto Delle Donne girls sing “Amazing Grace” for terminally ill U.S.C. Professor Lynn Biefeldt at the Pasadena State Music Educators Convention, and of course, the invitation to sing at Carnegie Hall in 2009.
Robb hopes to retire in 2013. He looks forward to sleeping in and traveling with Pam, his wife of 34 years. His face lights up and there’s an extra bounce in his step when he relates the latest adventures of his children, Andrew, a train conductor with an engineer training card in Portland, and Emily, who works in the San Francisco Office of the University of Illinois Development Department.
Robb thrives on the high energy required to run his program.
“I realize what a privilege it is to go to work and make music and I do that everyday,” he said. “How lucky can you be?”
– “The Outrageous Adventures of Sheldon & Mrs. Levine: A Son’s Elusive Search for His Mother’s Happiness”
A staged reading starring Rosalind Farotte and Jason Stebbins
“Bring-your-own” Dinner Theater
Jan. 21 & 22
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., Show at 8 p.m.
$18, $5 corkage fee; Benefit for the Gilroy Arts Alliance
Gilroy Interim Center for the Arts, 7341 Monterey St., Gilroy
– Auditions for “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland”
Saturday, Jan. 8 at the Gilroy Senior Center
Ages/times: 6-11 years at 3:30 p.m., 12-17 years at 5:30 p.m.
Actors should arrive 15 minutes early. Prepare a short song to sing acappella and bring a small headshot photo
– Vocal classes by Sandra Marlowe
12-week programs for beginning and intermediate students
Music Academy, 700 Church St., Gilroy
– Art classes by Sheryl Cathers
dabble Art Center
7680 Monterey St. #101, Gilroy
– Women’s Vocal Ensemble open enrollment
Mondays 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Gilroy Interim Center for the Arts, Monterey at Seventh Street