This month the Pepper spotlight is shining on the Jacksonville Children’s Choir, their repertoire, their leadership, the wonderful and artistic work they are doing, and the benefit they give to their community.
The Jacksonville Children’s Chorus (JCC) was founded in 1995 at Jacksonville University to fill a need for a children’s music program in the area. Led by Dr. Frances B. Kinne, then Jacksonville University president, the plan to create a local choir was implemented by Dr. Jon O. Carlson and Jim Taylor, who served as the conductor. In that first year, JCC had only 16 voices. Since then, it has grown to a membership of more than 350 singers participating in five choirs.
JCC faced many challenges because it was a small arts organization with little financial support or visibility in the community. JCC gained name recognition in 2001 when it was named the designated children’s chorus of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (JSO). To ensure diversity among its members, in 1998 JCC established a scholarship program to provide financial assistance to those families who cannot afford tuition. This year, more than 35% of the singers receive either partial or full scholarships.
In 2003, JCC created the annual First Coast Honors Choir Festival, a daylong event for area fourth through sixth-grade students. A guest clinician is invited to conduct the Honors Choir, which is assembled from students who have been recommended by their music teachers from Jacksonville’s 160 public and private schools. In conjunction with this event, JCC hosts a free Midwinter Music Workshop for area school music teachers.
The Board of Directors appointed Darren Dailey as the Artistic and Executive Director in 2006. Since that time, JCC has expanded its choir programs and has developed self-produced, sold-out concerts including the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing event, the annual Cool Side of Yuletide holiday concert, and concerts featuring guest artists such as Amy Grant, Voca People, Kristin Chenoweth, and Audra McDonald. In his tenth anniversary year, Darren Dailey was appointed as President and Artistic Director in 2016.
As JCC grows, it has created new choirs and new opportunities for its singers. The Young Men’s Chorus, established in 2011, is designed to meet the specific needs of young men who are experiencing voice expansion. The Touring Choir, established in 2011, travels nationally or internationally in the summer after a year of hard work and performances. From 16 singers in 1995, JCC has developed into one of Jacksonville’s most important providers of music education, enriching the lives of singers and audiences across the region.
Darren Dailey is celebrating his eleventh season as Artistic and Executive Director, shaping the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus into a world-class organization. Under his artistic leadership the Chorus has grown to serve over 500 Jacksonville children annually in five year-long performance choirs, multiple satellite rehearsal locations, and outreach programs throughout the region. He has introduced the Chorus’ singers and their audiences to innovative and renowned guest artists, and he has broadened the Chorus’ opportunities including performance tours in Italy, Greece, Ireland, Northern Europe, Canada, Maine, the Southeastern United States, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Repertoire from the 2014 season: Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, arr. Rolo Dilworth; We Are the Dreamers, Joan Warner; Woke Up This Mornin’, arr. Rollo Dilworth; Kusimama, Jim Papoulis; I Have a Dream, Ruth Elaine Schram; Count on Me, Bruno Mars, Ari Levine & Philip Lawrence; Ubi Caritas et Amor, Sally K. Albrecht; Ain’t Got Time to Die, arr. Ken Berg; Dreams, Langston Hughes & Rollo Dilworth; Take Me to the Water, Rollo Dilworth; Unity, arr. Daniel M. Cason, II; Bridge Over Troubled Water, arr. Kirby Shaw; Journey of Hope, Jim Papoulis.
Repertoire from the 2015 season: Yonder Come Day, arr Judith Cook Tucker; Cripple Creek, arr. Emily Crocker; Count on Me, arr. Janet Day; Woke Up This Mornin’, arr. Rollo Dilworth; We Will, Jim Papoulis; Path to the Moon, Eric H. Thinman; The Song That Nature Sings, Ruth Elaine Schram; Pie Jesu, Mary Lynn Lightfoot; When I Close My Eyes, Jim Papoulis; Ordinary Miracle, arr. Audrey Snyder; Show Me How, Terre McPheeters; Gerakina, arr. Henry Leck; Orange Blossom Special, arr. Robert Moore.
Repertoire from the 2016 season: A Trumpet Song, arr. Arnold Goldsbrough; O, Colored Earth, Steve Heitzeg; I Stood Upon a Star, Tom Shelton; Rhyme of November Stars, Tom Shelton; This Old Man, arr. James Fulleylove; Tutira Mai, arr Martin Ellis & Henry Leck; Four White Horses, arr. Christi Cary Miller; Marienwarmchen, Johannes Brahms; Sing to Me, Andrea Ramsey; The Water Is Wide/Bring Me a Little Water, Silvie, arr. Rollo Dilworth; Kuwa Furaha, Jim Paoulis; We Sing Alleluia, Tom Shelton & Camilla Pruitt.