Being a part of the RLS community rarely ends at a Pirate’s graduation. Many alumni remain engaged in the School community long after they’ve departed Pebble Beach. One of the newest and most exciting of these opportunities is an alumni choir, headed by Willow Manspeaker, upper division director of music. Ms. Manspeaker came up with the idea for the choir as a way to keep alumni connected to the School, and to foster more interest in the performing arts in the extended Stevenson community.
The choir is being directed by Ms. Manspeaker and longtime former Stevenson music teacher, Rob Klevan. Dr. Klevan was ecstatic about the chance to reconnect with former students and to become involved in the musical program at RLS once again. He explained, “For me, the best part of participating with the choir was seeing many of my former musicians—even if it was done virtually—and to hear that they are still singing or playing their instruments.”
Mia Peterson ‘89, Stevenson’s director of alumni and parent relations, helped Ms. Manspeaker and Mr. Klevan organize the choir by spearheading outreach to alums who may be interested in participating. She explains, “The choir is the result of something Willow has been thinking about doing for a long time. I supported the ‘nuts and bolts’ of reaching out to alumni and asking them to participate.”
Dr. Klevan shared an especially fun moment with the choir for him—when one of his first students, Larry Hunter ‘79, decided to participate in the group:
“Larry Hunter, one of the participants in the choir, was one of my first instrumentalists (trombone) when I started the band program in 1977. He was also a member of the first mixed choir I put together that same year and a member of the cast for the first RLS musical ever presented--Godspell, in the spring of 1978. Larry played the National Anthem on solo trombone for my first home football game at RLS, so you could say that he was the catalyst for the soon-to-become famous Stevenson Pep Band (a band that remained undefeated in the 26 years following Larry's initial performance). It was really wonderful to know that Larry still sings.”
While many anticipated the alumni choir to be a fun chance to gather with old friends, most participants found their choir experience to be even more valuable than they expected—especially because it happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people felt disconnected from their communities. Mia explains, “There are so many things that make this project special, including the fact that, at a time when it is so hard to connect with people, alumni from all years and our current students are working on it together.”
Dr. Klevan summed up the School’s excitement about and hope for the choir in the future by saying, “I think the RLS Alumni Choir will be a big hit with the Stevenson community and hopefully the start of a long tradition to come.”
Their first performance will debut on May 1.