Choir will be opening act for Giants |

Choir will be opening act for Giants

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Sasha Silver may be more nervous about going to Pacific Bell Park as a Los Angeles Dodgers fan than singing the national anthem in front of 40,930 people.

Silver, a member of Whittell High School’s Black and White Choir, will help sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a San Francisco Giants-San Diego Padres game in September.

It will be the choir’s first performance of the 2003-04 school year. Only a handful of students from this year’s squad will return.

John Houghton, Whittell’s music teacher, sent an audition to the Giants. Early season dates were already booked so the Giants scheduled them for September.

“I said, ‘Seniors, you should all leave right now,'” Houghton recalled in breaking the news to his class.

The seniors decided to stay and heard how Whittell’s choir was chosen to sing the national anthem for the Sept. 18 afternoon game.

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The school hasn’t received a return phone call from the Oakland Athletics after Houghton sent them an audition tape. Houghton has taken choirs to A’s, Sacramento Kings and Giants games during his 14 years at Whittell. He said it’s the first time a different Whittell choir will sing the anthem other than the one who sang on the audition tape.

Silver, a 16-year-old sophomore, wants to meet a player. Anyone will do, she said.

Asked if she’ll be nervous and forget the words, something that happened at a Portland Trailblazers and Dallas Mavericks playoff basketball game, Silver shook her head.

“Everybody should know the words because it’s our national anthem,” she said. “Come on.”

Anna Arana, a 15-year-old baseball fan who has never been to a game, agreed. Arana was surprised when she went to an all-state choir competition and students had to read off sheets for the words, especially during a time of war, she said.

The song is fairly easy but has some challenges, Arana said.

“I think it’s the ‘free’ at the end because it’s so high and the most critical part of the song because it’s so captivating,” she said.

At the beginning of next school year Houghton will hold auditions for the Black and White Choir. Practice on the anthem will happen immediately along with fund-raising efforts.

During team warm-ups the choir also practices to get used to the sound system delay. One time Houghton found himself standing next to a towering Karl “The Mailman” Malone. Several players complimented the choir on their delivery, Houghton said.

But it’s the loud speaker introduction and the sound of seats flipping up as sports fans rise for the anthem that sends a chill through Houghton.

“I realized at that point all these people are going to be listening to us,” he said. “It’s really thrilling.”

Parents, relatives and chaperones who want to travel together can purchase tickets for the Sept. 18 game for $20 before Friday. Contact John Houghton at (775) 588-2446.

— E-mail William Ferchland at