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Community Choir

Community Choir Spotlight: The Central Dakota Children’s Choir

November 26, 2018

The Central Dakota Children’s Choir was born from a dream but became a reality through a true community effort. Karen Traeholt envisioned the creation of a children’s choir in the community as part of her project for the Leadership Bismarck–Mandan program. To meet the criteria of the proposal, music educators were surveyed, community music supporters met, and information about other children’s choirs was assessed. Once it was determined that a children’s choir was a viable possibility, a timetable was set up to make this dream come true. The Bismark–Mandan Junior Service League, a women’s organization committed to promoting voluntarism and improving the community through action and leadership, adopted the Central Dakota Children’s Choir as a project. This partnership provided financial assistance and volunteers and made the continued growth of this organization possible.

In 1998, a board of directors was established, and Teri Fay was hired as the founding director of that first choir of fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Karen served as their accompanist. The name of the group officially became Central Dakota Children’s Choir to reflect the regional membership. Soon thereafter, in 2001, Karen was hired as executive director and Teri was hired as artistic director.

Due to the great success of the choir during its first three years, the organization expanded to three choirs for the 2001–2002 season to include grades 3–9; Jubilate (grades 3–4), Bel Canto (grades 5–6), and Kantorei (grades 7–9). The fall of 2004 saw the addition of our fourth choir, Cantus, for high school students, and in 2005, CDCC added an additional high school treble choir, Angelica. In January 2011, CDCC introduced Singing for Second Graders as an introduction to the fundamentals of music. The Central Dakota Children’s Choir continued to grow, and in the fall of 2011 a new fourth to sixth grade choir, Cantabile, was established in Dickinson, North Dakota. In 2015, after working under the umbrella of CDCC for four years, Cantabile became an independent choir continuing to provide children in Dickinson and the surrounding areas a quality choral music education.

The vision of the Central Dakota Children’s Choir is “to inspire children to a lifelong love of singing through the performance of fine choral music” through their mission: “to provide a unique choral education and experience to the children of central North Dakota, to enrich the artistic community, and to serve as ambassadors for our state through music and education.” It is the goal of CDCC to maintain steady planned growth as it evolves into a strong organization which provides a nurturing environment where children aspire to their highest level of musical artistry and personal development.

The choirs of Central Dakota Children’s Choir are recognized regionally for their quality and have been invited, by audition, to perform at state and regional events. CDCC performs 30 to 40 times each year and is available for special events. They sing annually for 12,000 to 15,000 people.

Leadership of the Central Dakota Children’s Choir includes:

Teri Fay, Artistic Director/Conductor
Teri is the founding director of CDCC and has also served as artistic director since 2001. She directs Bel Canto, a choir of fifth and sixth graders, and is also the founding director of Angelica, a treble choir for women in grades 9–12, which she led from its inception in 2005 until the spring of 2015. Most recently, she developed and teaches the Singing for Second Graders  and  Super Summer Singing classes. Teri’s vision for CDCC has taken it from one choir of 65 singers to seven different performing/teaching segments in the Bismarck–Mandan area.

Michael Seil, Conductor
Michael is the founding director of Kantorei, a middle-level choir. He served as the director from 2001–2013. Michael is also the founding director of Cantus, a high-school-level mixed choir, and  has been the director of Angelica since 2017.

Dawn Hagerott, Conductor
Dawn is the founding director of Jubilate, an entry-level choir of third and fourth graders. She also spent two seasons as the director of the Angelica choir from 2015–2017.

Jim McMahon, Conductor
This is Jim’s sixth season as the director of Central Dakota Children’s Choir’s middle-level group, Kantorei.

Tammy Rector, Executive Director
Tammy joined the staff in September, 2007 as operations director. In 2009, she was promoted to project manager, and in the fall of 2012 took on the additional duties of director of development. In the spring of 2015, she accepted the position of executive director following Karen’s retirement.

Amy Miller, Operations Director
Amy became part of CDCC’s staff in February, 2009. She is a Bismarck native. Amy has degrees from Bismarck State College and Alexandria Technical College. She has a strong background in customer service and design. Amy started as our administrative assistant and shortly after assumed the responsibilities of operations director.


Shop all Central Dakota Children’s Choir repertoire

Community Choir

Community Choir Spotlight: The Women’s Chorus of Dallas

October 11, 2018

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas is recognized as one of the nation’s finest women’s choruses. Founded in 1989 with an initial membership of 35, the Chorus has grown to over 100 members, performing three mainstage concerts and several outreach performances each year. The vision and mission of the Chorus are: to be recognized as a choral ensemble providing musical excellence; to promote the strength, diversity, and empowerment of women by performing high-quality music to entertain, inspire, and serve the community; and to contribute positively to the community through entertainment and the support of women’s causes.

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas’ history is crucial to the gay and lesbian community in Dallas. Early members speak of how the Chorus emerged as one of few safe spaces to be fully themselves. For some, the family they made with each other was their only family. Today, the Chorus welcomes a diverse group of self-identified women – regardless of age, race, or sexual identity – lending their voices to support a range of causes, including the Dallas AIDS Walk. In addition to several outreach performances a year, each of their mainstage concerts can reach an audience of 600-750.

The ensemble’s musical prowess has blossomed under the direction of Melinda Imthurn, in her 13th season as Artistic Director. They have performed before Queen Elizabeth; at the inaugurations for Governor Ann Richards and Dallas Mayors Ron Kirk, Laura Miller, and Tom Leppert; and backup for Demi Lovato in addition to recording 11 albums.

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas serves the community through their relationships with other organizations around Dallas that serve causes such as addiction recovery, mentorship for families in crisis, senior care, resources for teenage and single mothers, homelessness, and family violence. By providing 200 tickets for each mainstage concert to these community partners, with onsite performances at closed facilities or for those with less-mobile clientele, the Women’s Chorus of Dallas aims to make life-enriching music available to those who need it, believing that, “when times are tough, music can help make life worth living.”


Concert Performance Selections:

My Singing Bird, arr. Robert Cohen; The Lark in the Clear Air, arr. Robert Sieving; The Little Bird, arr. Kirby Shaw; Mata del Anima Sola (Tree of the Lonely Soul), arr. Alberto Grau; La Rosa y el Sauce, Carlos Guastavino; Happily Ever After, arr. Mac Huff; No Mirrors in My Nana’s House, Ysaye M. Barnwell; Music in My Mother’s House, arr. J. David Moore; In My Grandmother’s Garden, Robert Seeley; As the Rain Hides the Stars, Elaine Hagenberg; Under the Willow, arr. Susan LaBarr; God Will Give Orders/Sweet Child, from Snow Angel, Sarah Quartel; Voices on the Wind, Sarah Quartel; I Write About the Butterfly, Will Varner; Snow Angel: I. All His Angels II. Creatures of Light III/IV. God Will Give Orders/Sweet Child, Sarah Quartel; Come Pretty Love, arr. Joan Szymko; On Children, Ysaye M. Barnwell; Material Madrigirl, arr. Anne Albritton; Mouth Music, arr. Dolores Keane & John Faulkner; Lux Aeterna, Michelle Roueche; O Antiqui Sancti, Hildegard von Bingen/arr. Michael Engelhardt; Only Light, Only Love, Joan Szymko; I Want to Die While You Love Me, Rosephanye Powell; Travelin’ Home, arr. Andrea Ramsey; Voice on the Wind, Sarah Quartel, Laudate Dominum, Carolyn A. Pirtle; Now I Become Myself, Gwyneth Walker; The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Eleanor Daley; Still, I Rise, Rosephanye Powell, One Voice, Ruth Moody; El Vito, arr. Joni Jensen; How Do I Love Thee, William Boland; Love Is a Rain of Diamonds, Gwyneth Walker; Las Amarillas, Stephen Hatfield; El Rio, arr. Diana V. Saez; Nada Te Turbe, arr. Joan Szymko; Fruhling, Richard Strauss; Nature, the Gentlest Mother, Aaron Copland; Suddenly from Les Miserables, arr. Ed Lojeski, We Are, Ysaye M. Barnwell; And Her Mother Came Too, arr. Will Varner; Music in My Mother’s House, arr. J. David Moore; Mom-isms, Gioachino Rossini, words by Anita Renfroe; Iraqi Peace Song, arr. Lori Tenenhouse; The Wind Beneath My Wings, arr. Anne Albritton; Beauty in the Summer Air, Will Varner


Holiday Performance Selections:

Irving Berlin’s Christmas, arr. Brymer/Brown; Christmas Pop Sing-Along, arr. James Ployhar; Russian Christmas Music, choral parts arranged for TWCD by John McIntyre, Peace, Peace/Shalom/Silent Night, Rick and Sylvia Powell, arr. Randol Bass & Will Varner; Three Noels, arr. Clare Grundman; Let There Be Peace on Earth, arr. Douglas E. Wagner; ‘Tis the Season, arr. Will Varner; White Winter Hymnal, arr. Alan Billingsley; Elf Medley, arr. Roger Emerson; Christmas in the Convent, Eric Lane Barnes; Joyful, Joyful, arr. Roger Emerson; Go Tell It on the Mountain, arr. Kirby Shaw; The Holly and the Ivy, arr. Kirby Shaw; Snow Angel: I. All His Angels II. Creatures of Light III/IV. God Will Give Orders/Sweet Child, Sarah Quartel; Santa Claus Is Comin’, arr. Anne Albritton; Jumble Bells, arr. Will Varner; Schlof Main Kind, Allen E. Naplan; Nada Te Turbe, Joan Szymko; Peace, Peace, arr. Fred Bock; Let There Be Peace on Earth, arr. Jay Althouse; Shoulda Been a North Pole Elf, Andy Beck; An Elf’s Life, Anne Albritton


Shop all Dallas Women’s Chorus’ Repertoire

Directors' Toolbox

Vocal Health: How Choral Directors Can Help Students

October 2, 2018

One of the most important but sometimes overlooked jobs of a choral director is to help their students take care of their voices. With the stress of repertoire preparation and the other time-consuming aspects of our job, it can be something that we cognitively recognize but don’t necessarily have the time or energy to pursue. Our students, no matter the age, are going through critical times in their vocal development. We ask a lot of them vocally – range, projection, volume, facial expression, blend, tone, and many other skills – and we need to help them protect their voices and learn to care for them in a healthy way.

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Community Choir

Community Choir Spotlight: The Mankato Children’s Chorus

August 22, 2018

Founded in 1994, the Mankato Children’s Chorus, a nonprofit, non-auditioned choral program, is celebrating 25 years of “building a musical community one voice at a time.”

The mission of the Mankato Children’s Chorus is to provide an opportunity for any interested young person to experience the joy of singing while developing healthy vocal techniques. Through rehearsal and performance of quality choral music, singers will develop artistic expressiveness, self-confidence, a cooperative spirit, and the joy of working toward pursuing excellence with other singers. The Mankato Children’s Chorus is committed to introducing young people to age-appropriate choral literature that is well crafted and of value for the young singer.

The Mankato Children’s Chorus is made up of six different ensembles based on age:

The Mankato Children’s Chorus Training Choir comprises mainly first- and second-grade students. The Training Choir uses a Kodály based curriculum which teaches an appropriate developmental and sequential method of music reading and writing skills while working with the proper use of the child’s singing voice. Songs, games, and folk dances are all a part of the training choir rehearsal. The Training Choir performs on the annual winter and spring concerts and also sings at civic events in the Mankato area.

The Mankato Children’s Chorus Intermediate Choir comprises mostly third-graders and sometimes students in the second grade who are second-year MCC members. This choir continues the sequential music reading and writing instruction that began in the Training Choir and prepares students to read choral music in future choirs. Songs, games, and folk dances are a part of the Intermediate Choir rehearsal. The Intermediate Choir performs on the annual winter and spring concerts and also sings at civic events. 

The Mankato Children’s Chorus Youth Choir comprises fourth- and fifth-grade students with unchanged voices. The Youth Choir presents yearly winter and spring concerts and also sings at civic events, school concerts, and choral festivals. In past seasons, the choir has been honored to participate in the Honors Choir of Southeastern Minnesota Youth Choir Festival in Rochester, where the choir has worked with esteemed conductor and composer Dr. Rollo Dilworth and other renowned conductors. 

The Mankato Children’s Chorus Concert Choir comprises sixth- through eighth-grade students with unchanged voices. The chorus was selected to perform at the 1998 Minnesota Music Educators Conference, the Festival of the States in Washington D.C. in 2000, Nobel Conferences at Gustavus in 2001 and 2004, and the Minnesota ACDA Fall Conference, 2011. The choir presents yearly winter and spring concerts, sings at civic events, school concerts, and choral festivals, and also enjoys a yearly fall overnight retreat.

The Melodia Choir has been in existence since 2000. The choir began as a small high school women’s ensemble and is now the largest of the five MCC choirs. Melodia functions as three choirs: high school men’s, women’s, and a mixed choir. Because students come from the greater Mankato region, members have developed strong bonds with friends from many school districts. The success of the Melodia Choir is due to the strong choral programs in the South-Central Minnesota area that send skilled choral singers to MCC. Melodia singers represent high school choral programs from Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial, Loyola, Mankato East, Mankato West, Maple River, St. Peter, and Waseca. Melodia also participates in an annual winter retreat and travels with the MCC Concert Choir in nationwide tours every four years.

The​ ​Ambassador​ ​Choir​ ​is​ ​a​ ​new​ ​and​ ​additional​ ​performance​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ current​ ​choir​ ​members​ ​that​ ​would​ ​like​ ​to​ ​sing​ ​more​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community and broaden the musical presence of the Mankato Children’s Choir in the Mankato area.

Leah Ries, the Artistic Director, began directing the Mankato Children’s Chorus in 2000. She is the founder of the Kodály-based Training and Intermediate Choirs which provide an early choir opportunity for children in the first through third grades. During her tenure, Leah has directed the Training, Intermediate, Youth, Concert, and Melodia Choirs. Currently she directs the Concert and Melodia Choirs. She has been a music educator for 31 years in Oklahoma and Minnesota teaching elementary, middle school, and junior high general and choral music as well as private piano and voice. She has been an adjudicator and workshop presenter and is currently teaching elementary music in the Mankato Area Public Schools.

Jonathan Shevy joined the artistic staff in 2014. Jonathan directs the Youth Choir and Melodia Men. He also teaches in the Mankato Area Public Schools at Franklin Elementary School, teaching students in grades K–6.

Kristin Baty joined the artistic staff in 2011, directing the Training and Intermediate choirs. Kristin moved to Mankato in 2009 after teaching elementary vocal music in Edina, Minnesota. There she also directed an extracurricular choir and some African drumming. Kristin has assisted in directing a music and drama camp in Burnsville and directed the Children’s Choir for the Christmas program. She currently teaches elementary music at Hoover Elementary in North Mankato.

Claire Baker directs the Melodia Women and Mixed Choirs. She currently teaches K–5 general music at Rosa Parks and Bridges Community Elementary Schools in Mankato, Minnesota, and also serves as the music director for East High School’s drama department. Prior to her teaching assignment in Mankato, Claire taught K–2 general music and directed the chamber choir in Amery, Wisconsin, and she directed children’s programming while serving on the board of directors at the St. Croix ArtBarn in Osceola, Wisconsin.


Mankato Children’s Choir recent repertoire

Unison: Ani Ma’min, Caldwell/Ivory; Bist Du Bei Mir, Bach; Fairest Lady, Page; For a Child, Mulholland; Star Carol, Rutter; This Shall Be for Music, Patterson

SA/Two Part: Sound the Trumpet, Purcell/Erb; Dance with the Elephants, Varner; Deck the Halls for All, Albrecht; En Roulant Ma Boule, Miller; For the Beauty of the Earth, Rutter; Kusimama, Papoulis; Little Star with The First Noel, Gallina; Mangwani Mpulele, DeCormier; Rhythm of the Rain, Estes; Storm, DesJardins; Tailor of Gloucester, Giebler; This Shall Be for Music, Patterson; We Will, Papoulis

SSA or Three-(Four)-Part Treble: Be Simple Little Children, Chilcott; Cantate Domino, Schultz/Grundahl; Carol of the Bells, Leontovich/Wilhousky; Dance on My Heart, Koepke; Do You Hear What I Hear, Simeone; For Good, Schwartz; Hotari Koi, Ogura/Larson; Niska Banja, Page; Omnia Sol, Stroope; The Poet Sings, Stroope; The Sleigh, Kountz; Yonder Come Day, Cook

Tenor/Bass: Away from the Roll of the Sea, MacGillivray/Loomer; Seeing Nellie Home, Kyle/Crocker; Sing Me a Song of a Lad That Is Gone, Porterfield; Stodola Pumpa, Papoulis

SATB; A Festive Christmas Celebration, Snyder; Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie, Shaw; Come to the Music, Martin; Draw the Circle Wide, Light/Miller; For Everything There Is a Season, Althouse; Hope for Resolution, Caldwell/Ivory; How Can I Keep from Singing?, Walker; Kyrie, McClure; O My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose, Burns/Clausen; Peace, Peace, Powell/Bock; Soldier, Soldier, Won’t You Marry Me?, DeCormier; Song for the Mira, Calvert; Zion’s Walls, Hayes

Shop all Mankato Children’s Chorus repertoire

Community Choir

Pepper Spotlight: The David Johnson Chorus

July 23, 2018

The David Johnson Chorus, celebrating their 20th anniversary, is an auditioned community chorus that performs a range of musical programs nationwide appealing to every segment of the population. Musical genres include: classical, a cappella, spirituals, patriotic, sacred harp, Broadway show tunes, Disney songs, pop, and calypso music.

The chorus has established itself as a group of men and women from Northwest Tennessee who sing with a professional sound and a heart that its members, its director and many who hear them define as nothing short of magic.

Although they are headquartered in Dresden, chorus members come from Weakley and several adjoining counties in West Tennessee and West Kentucky to participate. The backgrounds of the amateur chorus members are as varied as one could imagine as are their musical abilities, but this eclectic group is bound together by a love of music and what it can do for the ear and the soul.

The idea of the choir came from Gail Dyer, general manager of the choir, during a steering committee planning session for Dresden High Project Graduation 98 – forming an alumni choir to be part of the event. Gail contacted the former choral director at Dresden High School, David Johnson, as well as former members of the choir under Mr. Johnson to see if there was any interest.  There was plenty of interest and this new community group was born.

The mission of the David Johnson Chorus is simple: To provide people from Northwest Tennessee the opportunity to be part of a quality performing group and to expose them to quality performing arts. To ensure that the magic of this chorus does not end with the original membership, chorus members made a strategic decision to open membership to others who had not been in David Johnson’s high school choruses. The enthusiasm of choir members and audiences alike has been tremendously refreshing and speaks to the fact that people are starving for this type of experience not just in Tennessee and Kentucky, but all across these United States.

The music director of the David Johnson Chorus is David Johnson. Mr. Johnson began his music education at an early age learning to sing parts and read shape notes in singing schools that were a part of his rural Southern landscape in the 50s and 60s. He was leading singing in churches by the age of 10 and constantly listening to recordings of the Robert Shaw Chorale. He remained an avid musician through his school years, singing in the choir, playing in the band, and learning to play the guitar on his own.

Mr. Johnson attended Freed-Hardeman University and the University of Tennessee at Martin majoring in music. This led him to establishing a choral program in Dresden, Tennessee, where he taught for nine years.

Spring 2016 – Celebrating America!  – Color Me Red, White, and Blue!

Disney: Frozen Medley, arr. Mark Brymer; From the 1940’s: You’ll Never Walk Alone/Climb Ev’ry Mountain, arr. Mark Hayes; From The 1950’s : What’d I Say, arr. Kirby Shaw; Can’t Help Falling in Love, arr. Roger Emerson; From the 1960’s: Jersey Boys, arr. Ed Lojeski; Best of the Beach Boys, arr. Ed Lojeski; Bridge Over Troubled Waters, arr. Kirby Shaw; Patriotic: Irving Berlin’s America, arr. Roger Emerson; Song for the Unsung Hero, arr. Joseph M. Martin; American Anthem, arr. John Purifoy; O, America, arr. Roger Emerson; America the Beautiful, arr. John Leavitt; An American Trilogy, arr. Mark Hayes; Armed Forces Salute, arr. Joyce Eilers; God Bless America, arr. Keith Christopher

Christmas 2016 – Come Celebrate Christmas!

Festive Noels, A European Celebration of Christmas, arr. Krogstad; The Polar Express, A Choral Medley, arr. Teena Chinn; It’s The Holiday Season, Medley, arr. Roger Emerson; White Christmas, arr. Jeff Higgs; It’s A Wonderful Christmas, arr. Mark Hayes; See That Star!, arr. Victor C. Johnson; Rise Up!, arr. Mark Hill; Follow That Star, arr. Brian Lewis; Ain’a That Good News Everywhere, arr. Craig Curry; Betelehemu, arr. Barrington Brooks; Ain’t Dat A-Rockin’ All Night?, arr. Paul Carey; What Strangers Are These?, arr. Dan Forrest; Still, Still, Still, arr. Joel Hoelscher; Silent Night, arr. Kaplan, Olusola & Bram; Emmanuel, arr. Gary Rhodes; Angels from the Realms of Glory, arr. Dan Forrest

Spring 2017 – Peace, Love, and Song

Listen to the Music, arr.  Alan Billingsley;  Beatles Love Songs, arr. Ed Lojeski;  Sweet Caroline, arr. Kirby Shaw;  I Will, arr. Kirby Shaw; Seven Bridges Road, arr. Kirby Shaw; Hello, Goodbye, arr. Mac Huff; Summer of ’69  (Songs of Woodstock Medley), arr. Roger Emerson; Heartache Tonight, arr. Greg Gilpin; Tribute to Queen (medley), arr. Mark Brymer; In My Life, arr. Steve Zegree; Put A Little Love in Your Heart, arr. Greg Gilpin; All You Need Is Love, arr. Alan Billingsley; With A Little Help From My Friends, arr. Deke Sharon; A Song For You, arr.  Mac Huff; We’ve Only Just Begun, arr. Rosana Eckert; The Beatles in Revue, arr. Ed Lojeski

Christmas 2017 – Come Celebrate Christmas

Heaven Everywhere, arr. Andy Beck; Christmas In Three Quarter Time, arr. Mark Brymer; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, arr. Mark Hayes; Here We Come A Caroling, arr. Joyce Eilers; What Christmas Means To Me, arr. Mac Huff; Somewhere In My Memory, arr. Mark Hayes; Appalachian Carols, arr. Gwyneth Walker; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, arr. Alice Parker and Robert Shaw; Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming, arr. Parker and Shaw; I Saw Three Ships, arr. Parker and Shaw; Christ Was Born On Christmas Day, arr. Parker and Shaw; How Far Is It To Bethlehem, arr. Parker and Shaw; Shepherd’s Joy, arr. John Parker and Mark Hayes; Festive Noels, arr. Bob Krogstad; O Holy Night, arr. Mark Hayes; Mary, Did You Know?, arr.  Roger Emerson; All On A Silent Night, arr. Becki Slagle Mayo; Star of Wonder, arr. Greg Gilpin; The First Noel/Pachelbel’s Canon, arr. Michael Clawson; Sing Joy, arr. Mark Hayes

Spring 2018 – Celebrating 20 Years – Favorites 1998-2018

Symphony of Love, arr. Michael. G. Martin; Beauty and the Beast, arr. Audrey Snyder; Circle of Life, arr. Keith Christopher; When You Believe, arr. Audrey Snyder; Dry Your Tears, Afrika, arr. Audrey Snyder;  On Stage With The Temptations, arr. Alan Billingsley; Queen of Soul, arr. Roger Emerson; You’ll Never Walk Alone/Climb Ev’ry Mountain, arr. Mark Hayes; Richard Rodgers In Concert, arr. Mac Huff; Lord, Take Control, Hymn; Holy Ground, Hymn; Ride the Morning Winds, arr. Grace Hawthorne & Tom Fettke; I’m Going Home, Sacred Harp; Idumea, Sacred Harp; Witness, arr. Jack Halloran; Prayer, arr. Rene Clausen; Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal, arr. Alice Parker; An American Trilogy, arr. Mark Hayes; God Bless America, arr. Keith Christopher; Why We Sing, arr. Greg Gilpin

Shop all of The David Johnson Chorus repertoire

The Inside Voice

The Inside Voice: Collaborating on a Special Choral Recording

March 27, 2018

In an age where it seems easy to make an amateur recording with electronic devices, the process of collaborating on a professionally produced choral album may be foreign to many people. We were given access into this process through an invitation by the Philadelphia-based choral ensemble The Same Stream. The choir draws its unique name from a poem written by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore entitled The Stream of Life.

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Community Choir

Pepper Spotlight: The OLLI Chorus – Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Delaware

February 8, 2018

Community choirs come in many shapes and sizes – from professional and semiprofessional groups to organizations for people who love to sing and make music to come together to create something new… and many in between. We hope to feature many of these different kinds of community ensembles through this ongoing Pepper Spotlight component of the Community Choir eClub, sharing both their stories and repertoire.

The spotlight this month focuses on an adult 50+ community choir that centers on building musicianship and vocal fundamentals as well as creating a community of voices who just love to sing. This chorus is part of the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, open to adults ages 50 and over. The OLLI Chorus is a 75-voice four-part choral group for experienced singers who meet at least twice a week preparing for end-of-semester performances on campus and out in the community. Members of the choir include career retirees from the military and members of the medical, business, industrial manufacturing and performing arts fields. Of course, most are grandparents – the most important profession of all!

The OLLI Chorus sings for the residents of many retirement communities, regularly opens the December series of Brown Bag Luncheon Concerts on the first Friday of December, and this past spring performed as part of the annual Dover Days Celebration.

The mission of OLLI is to enjoy classes, teach, exchange ideas and travel for intellectual development, cultural stimulation, personal growth and social interaction in an academic cooperative by its members, who volunteer their time and talents. Making music together fosters caring for one another, new friendships, finding others who enjoy the performing arts, and meeting other adults who are supportive and encouraging in each other’s goals as a part of this performing ensemble.

Over the 20+ years of its existence, the OLLI Chorus has had four conductors. Mrs. Janet Spengler-Miller, the current music director, has served since 2014. During her 35-year music teaching career she has taught in Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico, Maryland, and Delaware. She earned her Bachelor of Science in music education at Lebonon Valley College and her Master of Science in choral music at Towson University. In addition to teaching, she was the founder and director of the Diamond State Choraliers, an adult community choir, and taught applied piano at Wesley College. She served as President of the Delaware Music Educators Association and Teacher Chair of the Commission for Curriculum Standards in the Performing and Visual Arts for all Delaware students. In 2002 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the DMEA, and the Jesse Ball duPont Award, given by the Delaware Symphony, for her state-wide contributions to the arts and specifically the field of music education.

Regarding the importance of adult community choirs, Mrs. Spengler-Miller says:

“Keeping one’s brain busy solving new musical challenges is invigorating, pleasurable, satisfying, and necessary to maintain health. Being aware of the attributes of the aging brain, the repertoire through the years for the chorus included music that many had learned in their youth, vocal standards, American folk songs, classical standards, the Great American Songbook favorites, as well as contemporary selections from new composers.”

“It is always true that the capacity of our brains to remember music from long ago helps those with serious memory issues to relate, to socialize, to feel some self-worth and pride in their accomplishments. As their music director it is worth all the planning and rehearsal time to see the sheer enjoyment and love of music wash over their faces as we perform a piece that is meaningful and that we have worked together to perfect musically.”

“As current research shows, to stay healthy in the senior years, one must stay active. Keeping our brains busy solving new musical challenges is invigorating, pleasurable, satisfying, and necessary to maintain health. The camaraderie that I get to observe among the four vocal sections is gratifying and worth all of the hard work of the selection of appropriate music and teaching the various technical skills in order to perform well.”

Carol Nile of Chesapeake City is the piano accompanist for the OLLI Chorus. She began studying the piano at age seven and has been accompanying her entire adult life. In addition to teaching middle school music, she has always been involved in church music as an organist, pianist, and/or choir director. Carol is also the piano accompanist for the Delaware Women’s Choir which recently returned from their European tour.

Shop all Delaware Community Choir repertoire


Community Choir

Pepper Spotlight: New Mexico Peace Choir

February 5, 2018

The New Mexico Peace Choir was founded in December 2015, springing from a vision from the founder and director, Christy Conduff to form an inclusive, mixed voice choir that would inspire peace and joy and help raise social awareness. The Peace Choir’s repertoire revolves around inspiring songs about nature, social awareness, the human spirit and peace, filling a need and bridging the gap between head and heart. The ripple effect of the energy the choir gives and receives while singing is palpable and they believe this energy will help transform our world.

Since its recent beginnings, the New Mexico Peace Choir has experienced exponential growth and is making a difference in people’s lives. The NMPC has had sell out concerts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and they performed for Earth Day at the historic Loretto Chapel. The choir has opened the last two sessions of the NM Legislature and helped celebrate The World Day of Peace by performing at The Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.

Invitations for the New Mexico Peace Choir’s unique sound, repertoire and “heart” continue to come in.  Recently, they were honored to represent The U.S. at The World Peace Choir Conference in Vienna, Austria and sing with The Vienna Boys Choir and other Peace Choirs from around the world. The choir then traveled to Prague, The Czech Republic for more touring and a performance at The U.S. Embassy that was live streamed to other American Embassies worldwide!

The NMPC performed The National Anthem at the opening ceremonies for The 2017 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, followed by a concert on center stage.  They were also recently honored to perform at The Baha’i Faith’s 200th Anniversary celebration in Albuquerque as well as a Commemoration of Nelson Mandela.

The Director of the New Mexico Peace Choir is Christy Conduff.  Christy grew up in a musical family and directed her first adult church choir at the age of 16. She has continued directing in a wide variety of church settings most of her life. She has been a music teacher since receiving her BME from Southwest Missouri Baptist University with a dual emphasis in vocal performance and conducting. Christy recently retired from teaching music in the Moriarty/Edgewood and Estancia, NM school districts. She remains a popular and sought after clinician and adjudicator by many school districts throughout the state.

The accompanist for the NMPC is Denise Baccadutre. “Ms. B” received her BA in Vocal Music and Music Education from Wichita State University. After teaching music in Kansas, she moved to Moriarty, New Mexico, where she taught choir and piano and received her MA in Educational Administration.


Repertoire of the New Mexico Peace Choir


Why We Sing (June 2017)

The Call of Music, Joseph Martin, I am a small part of the world, Sally Albrecht and Jay Althouse, I am but a Small voice, arr. John Coates, Jr., I Lived, Jacob Naverud, Earth Song, Frank Ticheli, Gently (Walk on the Earth), Brian Tate, Rise, arr. Mac Huff, Grand Canyon Sunrise, Mark Patterson, Why We Sing, Greg Gilpin, Connected, Brian Tate, Peace Train, arr. Kirby Shaw, Reach Out and Touch, arr. Russ Robinson, Hymn of Acxiom, adapted Kerry Mars, In the Time of Silver Rain, Audrey Snyder, Riversong, Andy Beck, Let The River Run, arr. Jay Althouse, Fences, Andre J. Thomas, Sing For Peace, Jim Papoulis and Francisco Nunez

Give Me Music (January 2017)

Give Me Music, Amy Bernon, Glorious, arr. Masa Fukada, Prayer of the Children, arr. Andrea Klouse, The Human Heart from “Once on This Island”, arr Andy Beck, The Voice, arr Roger Emerson, Can You Hear? Jim Papoulis & Francisco Nunez, Bridge Over trouble Water, arr. Kirby Shaw, We Can Be Kind, arr. Kirby Shaw, Voice Dance, Greg Jasperse, Thankful, arr. Rollo Dilworth, Stand By Me, arr. Mac Huff, Anyway, arr. Greg Gilpen, Moutain Dance, Roger Emerson, May It Be, arr. Mark Brymer, Come To The Music, Joseph Martin

Singing for Joy, Singing for Peace (June 2016)

Riversong, arr. Roger Emerson, Earth Song, Frank Ticheli, Nella Fantasia, arr. Audrey Snyder, Unwritten, arr Steve Zegree, For Good, arr. Mac Huff, We Can Be Kind, arr. Kirby Shaw, The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun, arr. Audrey Snyder, Music Lead the Way!, Laura Farnell, There is Sweet Music Here, Mary Lynn Lightfoot, Sing For Peace, Jim Papoulis, I Dreamed of Rain, arr. Larry Nickel, This We Know, David Brunner, Give Us Hope, Jim Papoulis & Francisco Nunez, Change the World, arr. Mac Huff.


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Community Choir

The Youth Chorus of Kansas City: Inspiring Life-Long Music Makers

February 1, 2018

The Youth Chorus of Kansas City was founded in the summer of 2017 to provide ambitious young student singers throughout the Kansas City area an opportunity to grow their musical skills and abilities, pursue excellence and develop leadership skills through outstanding performance. Still in its first season, the chorus has had several public performances and concerts and is rapidly growing in popularity with enthusiastic young singers and audiences.

“I believe students should have a fun, uplifting, and rewarding musical experience in every rehearsal and performance,” explains founder and artistic director Ryan Main, a veteran educator, director, clinician and composer. “Our mission is to teach, inspire and empower young singers to be lifelong music makers who seek excellence in everything they do.”

The Youth Chorus of Kansas City is proudly inclusive, embracing and representing the diversity of Kansas City. Additionally, YCKC makes scholarships available to families in need, with almost 40% of students currently on scholarship.

Students in the Youth Chorus of Kansas City are expected to participate in their school music programs. “The Youth Chorus of Kansas City is not a replacement for a school choir,” Main explains. “In fact, YCKC works in harmony with schools to help students develop skills and contribute to their programs as leaders.”

This season, the Youth Chorus Theme was “The Poet Sings,” a celebration of the settings of famous poets, and the theme for the upcoming concert will be “A Million Dreams,” the music of hope, perseverance, and promise.

In addition to holding themed concerts throughout its inaugural season, the youth chorus has also performed for large audiences, caroling during the holidays in Kansas City and performing the national anthem for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Beyond its 2017-2018 season, the second annual YCKC Summer Sing! program will kick off this June. “It’s an excellent opportunity for students and families to see what YCKC is all about,” says Ryan. “They will spend a week singing, learning, and building friendships that will last a lifetime.” The Summer Sing! fills up quickly – interested singers can register at

Songs from the Theme “The Poet Sings”

The Poet Sings – Z Randall Stroope;  Adventures of Isabelle – Andrea Ramsey;  The Arrow and the Song – Christopher Matthews;  What Do the Stars Do? – Sherri Porterfield;  I Believe – Mark Miller;  Hope Is the Thing With Feathers – arr. Susan LaBarr;  I Dream a World – Rollo Dilworth

Songs from the theme “A Million Dreams”

A Million Dreams – Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, arr. Mac Huff; Will There Really Be A “Morning”? – Craig Hella Johnson; When I Close My Eyes – Jim Papoulis; The Dream Keeper – Rollo Dilworth; I Am – Melanie Horne;  Dream Big – Ryan Shupe

Other repertoire from the Youth Chorus of Kansas City

Autumn Gives Her Hand to Winter – Keith Loftis;  This Is Winter – Amy Bernon;  Jing-a-ling, Jing-a-ling – arr. Mac Huff;  I Ask For One Day – Jim Papoulis;  A la Media Noche – arr. Greg Gilpin;  Salangadou – Susan Brumfield;  How Can I Keep From Singing? – arr. Stephen Rew;  Beneath the African SkyPaul Caldwell & Sean IvoryEverlasting Melody – Rollo Dilworth;  Cantate Domino – Ken Berg;  Inanay – Lou Bennett


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