Tom Faria, choral teacher for the Los Banos Unified School District for the past 37 years and current mayor of Los Banos, conducted his final choral concert May 25 in front of a large and appreciative audience.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church was brimming with members of the community Wednesday evening to listen to director Tom Faria’s last concert and celebrate the director’s retirement. Faria noted the church has some of the best acoustics in the area for choral performances.

 Creekside Junior High and Los Banos High School choirs performed 16 songs and individually received awards in between numbers. Recipients of the most coveted awards were Isabella Chavez from Creekside with overall “Musicianship” and Zoe Wolfsen from Los Banos High as “Outstanding Senior.”  

 The concert began with all the members of the choir and the audience singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the junior high school choir took the stage,  elegantly performing four consecutive songs. 

 Creekside then gave the stage to the high school choir, which performed 11 vibrant songs. “You can hear the fire and resilience in their voices,” Faria said, especially as they sang the Brazilian  “Salmo 150.” 

 Los Banos high school senior soprano Zoe Wolfson delivered a captivating solo of “Trois Beaux Oiseaux Du Paradis” before both schools joined the stage to sing spirituals.

A member of the choir brought out a drum for the performance of the African- American spiritual “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” when Faria unexpectedly went silent. 

 Faria’s momentary silence was met with a roaring applause and standing ovation. “That standing ovation is for my parents,” Faria said, choking up between words. He fondly shared how his parents gave him a drum when he was 4 years old and how that gift, as well as the freedom to express himself, influenced the rest of his life. “It all began with a drum,” he said.

 “Take that energy you’re feeling tonight,” Faria said to his students, “and channel it through greatness,” Faria said. To the audience he said, “You have to let students flow with the beauty they offer.”

 The energy of the room picked up when the choir performed “Wade in the Water” while the choir swayed and the audience clapped to the rhythm. 

 To bring the concert to an end, both choirs were supplemented by  more than 30 Los Banos High School alumni who had been Faria’s students, as he called up each one by name to the applause of the audience. The entire group sang a rousing “It’s a Grand Night for Singing.”

After the performance, the choir showed their appreciation for their teacher. 

“We are all better because of him,” one alumnus said. “On behalf of all of us, I want to thank you.”

 Faria’s current students presented him with gifts of personal letters enclosed in a binder, in which they told him how he has inspired them, along with a mug and a gourmet cake in the shape of a piano. Two students read their letters aloud.

Faria reciprocated the appreciation to his family, students and audience. While on stage with his wife Bertha, Faria proclaimed, “That’s the key. Unconditional love for each other, and it spreads like wildfire. And children, if you can get anything else from us, remember that. Unconditional love, forever.” 

 Faria concluded the night by giving a piece of tender advice to all: “Make sure that your goal in life is to leave the world better than you found it.” 

Malina Duran

Malina Duran’s email is