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Indonesian student brings talent to Iowa show choir

March 18, 2013
Diyah holding her 1st place trophy.

Diyah holding her 1st place trophy.

Since the age of five, Indonesian exchange student, Diyah, has always had a microphone in her hand, but it wasn’t until arriving in Ankeny, Iowa that she got involved in show choir.

“I wanted to join show choir because I love music as well as singing, so I want to join any activities that relate to it while I’m in America,” said Diyah. Since show choir isn’t common in Indonesia, the idea was new to her. Diyah arrived in Iowa just after the auditions took place, but was lucky enough to make the cut after talking to the director about her past experience with music and performing.

Diyah began singing at age five and has been featured on local radio shows in East Java, Indonesia, as well as small concerts, a musical poetry group and choir performances. Her talent grew even more once she joined her school’s choir and vocal group.

ELZAR is Diyah’s alternative rock school band where she performs as the only girl and lead vocalists. Her band is almost three years old, and has recorded their first single entitled That’s What Friends Are For.” “It was written by me and released in 2011,” she said. Diyah is a little sad knowing they are performing without her this school year, but has been able to channel her talent through show choir.

Diyah performing with her band.

Diyah performing with her band, ELZAR.

The 52-member group’s performance includes four songs. She said, “most of our songs are from operas. Our four songs include an opener, character, ballad and a closer.” These numbers include “Big Time” by Linda Eder, “The Girl in the 14G” by Kristin Chenoweth, “If I Had My Way” by Linda Eder and “Larger Than Life” by Backstreet Boys. Diyah’s personal favorite is the closer. “We also dance to energetic and beautiful choreography,” she said.

Diyah’s choir, Intensity, is one of three at Ankeny High School. The three hours of practice they put in each week has helped them prepare for five competitive performances this year, where they have stolen the show. One of the highlights is Diyah’s solo during “If I Had My Way.”

Performing her solo to "If I Had My Way"

Performing her solo in “If I Had My Way”

“My favorite part is when I sing my solo. I tried out at the audition and was selected,” she said proudly. “I get excited and happy, but nervous at the same time because now I have to work harder to strengthen my vocals as well as maintain my nerve to sing in front of complete strangers.” Diyah said they typically perform for more than 1,000 people.

To prepare for the shows, Diyah gets a little help from her host parents. Not only have they attended every performance, but they also volunteered as chaperones who help with food, transportation, lodging, instruments and much more. Diyah said, “My mom always patiently curls my hair for an hour before competitions.”

Diyah says she has learned a lot from show choir. She said she has learned to be more disciplined, punctual and how to be a team player. “This whole experience helped me get to know myself better, and realize my own potential. I hope by the time I return to Indonesia, I can start show choir in my school.”

In addition to show choir, Diyah is also involved in debate club and the school musical.

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