Alumni Corner: Chelsea Compton
December 18, 2023
This month, we’re catching up with Chelsea Marshall Compton (’03), who sang in Apprentice Choir, Intermediate Choir, Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers during her time in Los Angeles Children’s Chorus from 1995 to 2003. After graduating high school, Chelsea headed to UC Berkeley where she studied music. These days, she teaches French music in her hometown, La Canada Flintridge.
Do you have any fond memories of song in your early life?
I loved singing in church. I can still hear my Grandma singing “How Great Thou Art”. My parents say I sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” enthusiastically.
How did you first get involved with LACC?
I sang in another Pasadena-based choir, then my mom found out about LACC and signed me up for auditions.
What is a favorite memory, tour, or concert experience with LACC?
Oh so many! I feel like tours were a bonding experience. I developed such sweet friendships in choir, which were strengthened during tours. There’s something so magical about making music together to offer people, and to experience that in new and exciting places. I loved the England/Scotland tour especially, because of being with my choir friends in such a beautiful place. In Eastern Europe, I remember we broke out into “Siyahamba” while we were on a boat tour. It was just so fun to sing spontaneously and delight the people around us.
How did LACC help prepare you for your current career as a French teacher?
LACC prepared me in so many ways for various aspects of my life, and experiences I’ve had since graduating from high school. LACC nurtured my love of singing and I applied to college as a declared music major. I loved my time at UC Berkeley majoring in vocal performance from 2003-2007. After graduating college, I was a volunteer missionary for my church in France from 2007-2009. One of the most tender experiences I had was visiting an elderly woman in a rest home and singing her beloved hymns to her. I also gave a private performance of “Bist du Bei Mir” to a German couple.
Not only did LACC provide musical instruction and experience, but I gained so much confidence through tours and traveling. I’m so grateful for the amazing experiences I had in Chicago/Indianapolis, Hungary/Poland/Czech Republic, Toronto, England/Scotland, New York/Boston, and Quebec. I gained a love for other cultures, and comfort in navigating new places, which helped me tremendously as I lived in France for about 2 years. I can’t express how priceless a gift it was to make connections through music with people across our own country, and in other parts of the world—it increased my perspective that we are a big global family, and that music unites us.
I became a French teacher in 2010 after returning home from my mission service, teaching in elementary, junior high and high school settings. I always incorporated music and singing in my classes. It was one of my goals to help my students develop a love of other cultures, and a desire to make connections with people around the world. I had them research French-speaking countries on almost every continent, and listen to their traditional music. I love that LACC taught me music from so many cultures: I sang songs in Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, German, Hungarian, Czech, Korean, Japanese, and probably other languages I’m forgetting.
I consider my career to be first and foremost a mom. I have three beautiful boys, Warner (10), Lincoln (8), and Ansel (6). I deeply desire that they have the opportunity to develop their talents and interests, just like my parents gave me the opportunity to do so through singing in LACC. When Lincoln was born, I was singing with the Pasadena Chorale and he came to choir rehearsals with me, and now he sings almost all the time. I sing to my sons almost every day. I know I can reach them through music in ways that I can’t through speaking/actions.
I teach French part-time at Petite Library in Altadena and facilitate a French music class. I am also working towards certification as a music therapist. I would love to work part-time as a French teacher and part-time as a music therapist in school settings. As a music therapist, I would preferably work mostly with students with special needs, creating customized musical activities that would help them with their physical, cognitive, and emotional goals. I would also love to work with elderly people with dementia/Alzheimer’s. So much wonderful work has been done by music therapists in helping the elderly with memory recall through music, and helping stroke patients regain mobility and speech.
Are You Still Singing? What Else Are You Up to Now?
I am still singing! I sing in the Southern California Latter-Day Saints Choir and at church and at home with my sons. Life is busy with three active boys—I’m teaching my oldest piano and driving kids to/from school, soccer practices, baseball practices, church youth group activities, and family gatherings. Like I previously said, I’m working towards Music Therapy certification and teaching French part-time I am currently a Room “Mom” or Rep for Lincoln’s 2nd grade class, so I get to help coordinate class activities and gifts for teachers. I also volunteer at the school’s library and I got to be a host representing France at the school’s World Fair. At my church, I taught children’s classes for a few years, and now am a teacher in the teenage girls’ group. I also love gardening, jogging, hiking, and spending time with family.
Do you have any advice for current LACC choristers?
Sing from your heart! Cherish the friendships you make in choir, and don’t take for granted the amazing opportunities this choir affords you. Know that you are giving such a wonderful, beautiful gift to the world by your singing together. Thank you! You are bringing beauty, joy, and peace to the world that needs it so badly. I love coming back to LACC concerts and hearing your beautiful voices, it lifts my spirit so much.
What’s your favorite song?
“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s Messiah.
How has your experience as a performer prepared you for where you are now?
As a teenager, I was very shy, and performing definitely increased my confidence and poise. I need that as a mother, a teacher, and as a performer now.
What does LACC mean to you?
LACC means so much to me! I feel like it was foundational in shaping my character, my goals, and the trajectory of my life. Singing in this choir brought so much joy into my life, and I will ever be grateful for that opportunity my parents gave me. I’m so grateful for Diane Landis – my Apprentice Choir director, and Anne Tomlinson – my Intermediate Choir, Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers directors who gave so much of themselves to make this organization possible and changed the lives of countless young people, including mine. I want to thank everyone who makes LACC possible – the staff, musicianship teachers, parent volunteers/chaperones… I wish I could name them all! Thank you!