The San Marcos High School Madrigals were named the best high school vocal group in all of Southern California on Tuesday as they won first place at the Golden State South choral competition held at First Congregational Church in Long Beach.

The Royals dominated the competition, scoring 288.5 points out of a possible 300 — 4.5 points higher than the next choral group. The next four groups had a point spread between each place of .75. Two judges gave San Marcos a perfect score of 100 on one of their selections, a traditional spiritual, “Wade in the Water.”

“We put in many hours of hard work and are very proud we could perform at such a high level,” senior Megan Zink said.

The Madrigals also won the Heritage Festival of Gold last month in Orange County.

The top 12 high school chamber choirs in Southern California were selected for the prestigious competition after auditioning in the fall. At the competition, the groups performed the same required piece — “Cantate Domino” by Claudio Monteverdi — plus two selections of their choice. They were judged on tone, balance, blend, interpretation, rhythm, intonation, general effect and repertoire. The groups were judged by four highly regarded music educators — Dr. Anna Hamre of Fresno State University, Dr. Edith Copley of Northern Arizona University, Dr. David Weiler of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Dr. Brian Allen of Northwestern University.

The San Marcos Madrigals have been busy all spring preparing for the competition not only by learning the music, but also about performance practices and the beauty and responsibility to the art of choral singing. During the competition, the students were able to listen to each group’s performance of the required piece, ”Cantate Domino,” to compare and analyze the performance interpretation. In addition, students heard a wide variety of music from all time periods in German, Italian and Latin to assess the groups based on the same criteria as the judges.

Upon their return, the Madrigals reviewed the comments of the judges and other groups, but also broke down the graphs and rubric points to make mathematical comparisons and calculations of the competition.

“It is very important to include public assessments in the curriculum and for them to appreciate and love the art of choral singing,” Director Carolyn Teraoka-Brady said. “We may love The Voice and Glee!, which bring a lot of attention to group singing, but it is popular singing. There is room for both!”

“We learn so many different choral concepts and music theories, which makes us much better singers,” senior Garrett Hazarian said. “Mrs. T-B (Teraoka-Brady) borrows Mrs. Mandarino’s (County Teacher of the Year and San Marcos English teacher) concept of students being scholars. So Mrs. T-B teaches us as musical scholars.”

Many of the Madrigals will be performing in San Marcos High’s spring musical, Kiss Me Kate, which will be held May 3-5 and May 10-12 in the San Marcos Auditorium. Shows will start at 7 p.m.

The Vocal Department will hold their Spring Concert on May 30 at San Roque Church starting at 7 p.m. The Vocal Department consists of the Madrigals, the men’s ensemble Royal Knights, Mixed Chorus and women’s ensemble Enchenté, who just returned from an award-winning performance at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.

— Aaron Solis is activities director for San Marcos High School.