Community Choir Spotlight: The Central Dakota Children’s Choir


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.

Repertoire of the Central Dakota Children’s Choirs

Angelica (HS Treble)

Ring Silver Bells, arr. by Audrey Snyder; Text Me Merry Christmas, arr. Roger Emerson; Pie Jesu From “Requiem”, Andrew Lloyd Webber; Banjo Pickin’ Girl, arr. Tim Sharp & Andrea Ramsey; Inscription of Hope, Z. Randall Stroope; Goin’ Up, Glenda Franklin; Sleep Now My Little One, Sarah Bauman; Eatnemen Vuelie, Frode Fjellheim; Dirait-on from “Les Chansons des Roses”, Morten Lauridsen; Turn Around, Arr. René Clausen; Reuben, Reuben, arr. Vijay Singh; Mary, Did You Know?, arr. Roger Emerson; This Little Babe from “A Ceremony of Carols”,  Benjamin Britten; I Am Not Yours, David N. Childs; Santa Baby, arr. Mark Brymer; La Musica,  Jim Papoulis; Hebe deine Augen auf zu den Bergen from “Elijah”,  Felix Mendelssohn; His Sheep Am I, Orien Johnson; What is This Feeling from “Wicked”, arr. Roger Emerson; A Girl’s Garden from “Frostiana”, Randall Thompson; Tundra,  Ola Gjeilo; Breath of Heaven, arr. Roger Emerson; Duerme Negrito, Atahualpa Yupanqui; Seasons of Love, arr. Roger Emerson; Harriet Tubman, arr. Kathleen McGuire; Jordan’s Angels, Rollo Dilworth; Cantate Domino,  Ken Berg; Die Schwestern,  Johannes Brahms; Duerme Negrito, arr. Emile Solé; Tundra, Ola Gjeilo; Dancing-Song, Zoltán Kodály; Ndikhokhele Bawo, arr. Mzwandile Mabuza; Nuit d’étoiles, arr. Alan Raines; Little Firefly, Larry E. Schultz; Life in These Waters, Sarah Bauman; Reuben, Reuben, arr. Vijay Singh; I Will Be Earth, Gwyneth Walker; Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, arr. Ed Lojeski; I Thank You God, Gwyneth Walker; Do Re Mi from “The Sound of Music, Rodgers” & Hammerstein

Jubilate (grades 3 – 4)

A Joyful Song, Mary Lynn Lightfoot; On a Starlit Night, Jill Gallina; Jamaican Noel, arr. Linda Spevacek; Gonna Catch That Santa, Andy Beck & Brian Fisher; The Star-Spangled Banner, arr. John Smith; A Joyful Song, Mary Lynn Lightfoot; Life Has Loveliness,  Mark Patterson; All Night, All Day, arr. Greg Gilpin; Put a Little Love in Your Hearts, arr. Christi Cary Miller; Winter Troika Ride, Christi Cary Miller; A la nanita nana, arr. David Eddleman; Carol of the Elves, arr. Janet Gardner; In the Arms of an Oak, Andy Beck; On Silver Tipped Wings, Mark Patterson; The Blessing of Light from “Blessings from the Children”, Gwyneth Walker; Pat-a-Pan, arr. Clare Grundman; Reindeer Twist, Stephen Lawrence; On Morning Wings from “Blessings from the Children”, Gwyneth Walker ; Boogie Woogie Choo Choo, Cristi Cary Miller; Grant Us Peace,  Dave & Jean Perry; Froggie Went a-Courtin’, arr. Audrey Snyder; Tongo, arr. Greg Gilpin; I Love to Laugh, arr. Cristi Cary Miller; Rattle My Rattle, arr. Susan Brumfield; In the Arms of an Oak, Andy Beck; Shades, Hank Beebe

Kantorei (grades 7 – 9)

Bidi Bom, David Eddleman; Ballade to the Moon, Daniel Elder; Sing Joy, arr. Mark Hayes; Joy to the World, traditional; For Unto Us A Child is Born, traditional; O Come All Ye Faithful, traditional; I Will Lift My Voice and Sing!, Victor C. Johnson; What if I Never Speed?, arr.  Russell Robinson; Song for the Unsung Hero Music, Joseph Martin; Rhythms of One World, Gary Fry; And Sweet Singing in the Choir, arr. Douglas E. Wagner; Lux Aeterna, Tom Porter; I Sing Because I’m Happy, adapted Rollo Dillworth; Let There Be Peace on Earth, arr. Craig Courtney; Festival Sanctus, John Leavitt; Bring Me Little Water Silvy, arr. Greg Gilpin; Bridge Over Troubled Water, arr. Kirby Shaw; Loch Lomond, arr. David Lantz III; Child of Tomorrow, Mark Patterson; All Ye Who Music Love, arr. Linda Spevacek; Why We Sing, Greg Gilpin; Irish Blessing, Linda Spevacek; Fum, Fum, Fum!, arr. Mack Wilberg; Ubuntu, Christi Jones; The Pure In Heart,  Patrick Hawes; Personent Hodie from “Piae Cantiones”, arr. Ruth Elaine Schram; Armed Forces Salute, arr. Joyce Eilers; Now Is The Month of Maying, arr. Kirby Shaw; Ose Shalom, arr. Michael Larkin; True Light, Keith Hampton; I Dream a World, Andre Thomas; Defying Gravity, arr. Roger Emerson; Rhythms of One World, Gary Fry; Irish Blessing, Linda Spevacek-Avery

Bel Canto (grades 5 – 6)

Winds of Peace, arr.  Nancy Grundahl; Little Tree, Sally K. Albrecht & Jay Althouse; Petit Enfánt, Linda Miller Shaw & Dana Thompsen; Minka, traditional; Come and Sing Together, Zoltan Kodaly; I Bought Me A Cat, arr. Linda Steen Spevacek; Bashana Haba’Ah, Nurit Hirsch; Jazz Cantate, Andy Beck; John Henry, arr. Rollo Dilworth; What is Pink?, Janet Gardner; Cold Snap, Mark Hayes; Manger Carols, arr. Gary Parks; Hot Chocolate,  Andy Beck; Cantate, Exsultate, David Waggoner; Come and Sing Together, Zoltan Kodaly; Follow the Drinking Gourd, arr. Rollo Dilworth; If I Knew You, Waterman & Gray; Magical Kingdom, John Rutter; Orange Blossom, arr. Robert Moore; That’s What We’d Do, Dave & Jean Perry; The Rhythm of Life, arr. John Leavitt; Ding Dong!, Carl Orff; Always Sing Your Song,  Victor C. Johnson; White Fields,  Mary Donnelly & George L.O. Strid; The Kalanta of the New Year, Setting by Malcolm Dalglish; Hello, Hello, Eric Lane Barnes; Bist du bei mir,  J.S. Bach; Cuckoo from “Friday Afternoons”  Benjamin Britten; Reflections of a Lad at Sea, Don Besig & Nancy Price; Fairest Lady from “The Nursery Rhyme Cantata”  Nick Page; Ching-A-Ring Chaw, arr. Aaron Copland; That’s What North Dakota is to Me, Teri Fay; Storm, James M. Desjardins; In Flanders Fields, McCrae, Smith & Langford; Jabberwocky from “Join the Dance”, Carroll & Jennings; Jubilate Deo, Emily Crocker; Rockin’ Robin, arr. Andy Beck; Caterpillar Music, Ryan O’Connell; If I Knew You, Waterman & Gray; It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), arr. Roger Emerson

Cantus (HS Mixed)

The Heavens are Telling from “The Creation”, Joseph Haydn; Lux Nova, Eric Whitacre ; Oba Ti De, Jeffery Ames; Neckereien, Johannes Brahms; Tell My Ma, arr. Jon Washburn; Fa Shu Ha, arr. Yu-Shan Tsai; The Shortest Ballad in the World, Eric Lane Barnes; Dwijavanthi, arr. Ethan Sperry; The Best of All Possible Worlds from “Candide”, arr. Robert Page; Battle Hymn of the Republic, arr. Peter J. Wilhousky; Pai duli vwihdul ja, arr. Steven Sametz; The Tyger Andrew Miller; Festival Deck the Hall, arr. Jay Althouse; Dormi, Dormi, O Bel Bambin, arr. Robert DeCormier; Christmas Goes Classical, arr. David Maddux; Feller from Fortune from “5 Songs of the Newfoundland Outports”, arr. Harry Somers; This Marriage, Eric Whitacre; Rosas Pandan, arr. George Hernandez; Cantique de Jean Racine,  Gabriel Faure; Bogoróditse Devo,  Sergei Rachmaninoff; John the Revelator, arr. Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory; To the Mothers in Brazil: Salve Regina Lars Jansson, arr. Gunnar Eriksson; Sednalo e Djore dos, arr. Sara Shakliyan; Rosas Pandan, arr. George Hernandez; Hope For Resolution, arr. Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory; Let Their Celestial Concerts All Unite from “Samson”, G. F. Handel; A Day in a Manger from “Anniversary Carols”, arr. Jackson Berkey; Deck the Halls from “CoolSide of Yuletide”, arr. Francisco Nunez & Jim Papoulis; Vox Populi, Giedrius Svilainis; Dirshu Adonai, Kenneth & Kirsten Lampl; A Jubilant Song, Norman Dello Joio; I Will Wade Out, Eric Whitacre; Drunken Sailor from “Three Sea Shanties” Arranged by Jonathan Willcocks; La Villanella, arr. Steven Sametz; Dirshu Adonai, Kenneth Lampl & Kirsten Lampl; Soon I Will Be Done, arr. Stacey Gibbs; Vox Populi, Giedrius Svilainis; I Will Wade Out, Eric Whitacre; Pai duli vwihdul ja, arr. Steven Sametz; Sednalo e Djore dos, arr. Sara Shakliya

Combined Choirs

Do You Hear What I Hear?,  Arr. Harry Simone; Hallelujah from “Messiah”, G.F. Handel; Lakota Peace Song, Paul Carey; Battle Hymn of the Republic, arr. Peter J. Wilhousky; Hope for Resolution, arr. Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory


Shop all Central Dakota Children’s Choir repertoire

Tom Dean
Tom Dean
Tom Dean is a Choral Editor, and the Elementary and Secondary General Music Editor for J.W. Pepper & Son, Inc. Prior to working for Pepper, Tom taught instrumental and choral music as well as audio engineering at the high school level in the Delaware public schools for 32 years. He is a member of the ACDA and is active in the Delaware Music Educators where he served in numerous positions including President, All-State Coordinator, Technology chair, and Composition chair, and NAfME where he served as Eastern Division President and NEB member. He also was a member of the music writing team that developed the new music standards for the NCCAS project.


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