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Cantabella Children's Chorus celebrates '30 Years of Miracles'

Cantabella Children's Chorus turns 30 years old with concert, the final for artistic director Eileen Chang before retirement.
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Cantabella Children’s Chorus is performing its “30 Years of Miracles” concert on Saturday at the Bankhead Theater. The show will mark the final one as artistic director for Eileen Chang.

Cantabella Children's Chorus turns 30 years old and commemorates the past three decades of "miracles" onstage at its spring concert this Saturday.

As part of the celebration, a variety of favorite highlights from years past will be performed in its "30 Years of Miracles" shows at 1 and 4 p.m. May 21 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.

For artistic director Eileen Chang, who has worked with the youth group for over 12 years, this will be her last performance before stepping into an early retirement. Chang coached the group as a guest conductor a few times but joined them as the artistic director in 2017.

"The founder, Bee Chow, invited me to conduct when they entered the Golden Gate international choral competition and that's how I got to know this group," Chang said. "I didn't know I was going to stay this long, but Bee kept calling, and then I started working here. And ever since then, I am with this group."

As an artistic director, Chang led Cantabella Children's Chorus to international competitions and won the Grand Prix Award at the July 2019 World Youth Choral Festival and Competition in South Korea.
Chang lived in the South Bay, which required long hours of commute, but her love for music motivated her to travel from San Jose to Livermore.

"It took more than an hour with the traffic, but I did that for five to six years," Chang said. "But then I moved to the Tri-Valley area in 2016, so that's when I was more involved with this group as an artistic director."

She said it did not take long for her to fall in love with the group of children.

"That's why I commute from San Jose. I like teaching children music a lot and it is something very rewarding, so I think that's why I stayed until now," Chang said.

She said it is difficult to say goodbye to the job but it has become too demanding and leaves very little time to pursue other ventures.

"It involves a lot of work 24/7. I enjoyed that but I want to have some free time to do something that I would not be able to do if I retire in six or seven years, so I'm retiring very early," Chang added.

Looking ahead to retired life, she said she hopes to travel taking music to underprivileged areas all over the world and work with the adult choir she founded.

"I have my own adult choir that I founded five years ago, so I will keep doing that," Chang said. However, I want to travel and I want to travel to some unprivileged area and if I can I want to probably bring music to the kids there too."

Chang, who cherished her time here, said she will miss the kids and their innocent charm.

"Making music with kids is just, it's something that I'm going to miss very much because kids are very acceptable," she said. "They have no second thoughts. When you teach well, they sing well, when you are lazy, they become lazy so I become their mirror and I took this job very seriously in that regard."

Tickets for "30 Years of Miracles" are available online via LivermoreArts.org or cantabella.org/tickets.