A NEW ERA FOR EASTWOOD’S CHORAL PROGRAM

by Heaven Hagans

Eastwood high school’s choirs are known around El Paso to be among some of the best in the city. Under Steven Muller’s direction in 2013, the Cavaliers varsity choir achieved straight 1’s in concert at the UIL choir competition,  in which they performed Eric Whitacre’s “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine,” a piece that has proved to be a challenge to even some college level choirs. After a successful year, Muller left to Virginia to take a job that was offered to him at Liberty University.

This year, Vanessa Cox is the new director of Eastwood’s choirs. She is originally from Sumter, South Carolina. Cox, her husband, and their five children have been numerous places around the country while her husband, SSgt. Rodney Cox, has served in the U.S. Army. Before coming to work at Eastwood, Cox heard from various sources that Eastwood’s choirs are some of the best in El Paso. “Someone from my church actually used to go to Eastwood High School… and she spoke about how wonderful the choir program has been for so many years” Cox said. To many people, taking on the responsibility of directing a choir with such a high reputation may sound daunting. Even with so much experience, Cox is no exception. “It’s a little daunting, but it’s also encouraging as well” she said.  Eastwood High School is home to “El Paso’s Finest,” and Cox expressed that the commitment level of Eastwood’s students is by far more than any she has encountered since she has been teaching. “It’s refreshing, it’s encouraging, and it’s exciting,” Cox said.

Of course, she is not the only one experiencing the changes that come with this transition. Students who studied under Muller are excited about such an experienced new director, and both choir students and Cox are trying their best to adapt to each other. Itzel Medina, a member of the Cavaliers who has been singing in the choir since middle school, thinks that Cox has shown that she truly cares about helping the choir succeed. “She is truly different from Mr. Muller, but in my opinion it could be just what we need,” Medina said.

In terms of what she hopes to accomplish with Eastwood’s choirs, Cox’s biggest hope is to do no harm. In addition, she would like to bridge the gap between merely performing and “telling the story” of the piece being performed. “You as the performer really need to know what you’re singing about so you can connect with your audience,” she said. Cox says she is thrilled to be a part of The Trooper Nation and is looking forward to a rewarding and fulfilling year working and growing amongst “El Paso’s Finest.”