Community Choir Spotlight: The Mankato Children’s Chorus


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

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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