The Austin Children’s Choir strives to provide the children of Austin and surrounding communities with a rewarding music program that gives them the opportunity to learn and perform outstanding choral music. The choir’s mission is to make their program accessible to all children, no matter their musical experience or socioeconomic status. The choir accepts all singers into the program who audition. This is especially important since we unfortunately live in a time when schools across the country are cutting funding for fine arts programs. The Austin Children’s Choir is providing an outlet for musical expression in the live music capital of the world. Studies suggest that musical training can help students improve in all school subjects, develop their social interactions, and boost their self-esteem. Singers in the Austin Children’s Choir range from ages 6 to 18 with a variety of musical backgrounds and experiences.
The mission of the Austin Children’s Choir:
- Nurture and develop Austin-area children using music and performance as the primary vehicles of motivation and education
- Provide the Austin music scene with the unique, pure sound that only a children’s choir can produce
- Make a cultural contribution to the community by offering a varied repertoire that includes classical, popular and ethnic music
- Promote the principle of inclusion by recruiting members from diverse ethnic, economic and social backgrounds
At the 2008 Critic’s Choice Awards annual celebration, the Austin Critics Table named the Austin Children’s Choir’s world premiere performance of The Odyssey the Best Choral Performance of the Season. In 2015, the choir performed John Rutter’s Mass of the Children in collaboration with members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, an adult chorus, and the Hill Country Youth Chorus. The Austin Children’s Choir performed the world premiere of Jack Wild’s Three Waking Dreams, a commission for the choir’s 30th anniversary.
Each concert season is centered on a new theme, which drives musical selections by the artistic staff. Concert themes have included Music Around the World, Through the Eyes of a Child, and Pilgrims and Pioneers. Repertoire is chosen to highlight the annual theme and connect the music for the audience and the performers.
In 2017, the Austin Children’s Choir celebrates their 31st season, entitled Beyond the Pages, with an emphasis on folk music and music featuring texts by famous poets and writers. While rehearsals are focused on producing beautiful music, the artistic staff also fosters development in music literacy and appreciation through lessons in music reading, critical listening, and music theory.
The artistic staff of the choir comprises music educators from the Austin area who hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and conducting. Directors of the chorus have taught at the elementary, middle school, and collegiate levels. Many alumni of the Austin Children’s Choir have gone on to careers in the arts. Members have gone on to study music education, performance, and theater in Texas and around the country.
The Managing Director of the Austin Children’s Choir is Mary Ashton. The artistic staff comprises Artistic Director Sam Parrott, Assistant Artistic Director Emily Evans, Associate Director Kelly Ford, and Accompanist Brian Pettey.
Sam is beginning his fourth year with the Austin Children’s Choir and is also starting his third year as Choir Director at A.J. Briesemeister Middle School in Seguin ISD. In 2015, Sam premiered a work by Composer in Residence Jack Wild entitled Three Waking Dreams and conducted a collaborative performance of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the Hill Country Youth Chorus. Sam will serve as an Assistant Director for the collaborative performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, with an adult chorus comprising singers from Conspirare, Chorus Austin, Panoramic Voices, and Texas State University, along with Ballet Austin and the Austin Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Peter Bay, conductor of the ASO.
Sam received his bachelor’s degree in music studies with an emphasis in choral music from Texas State University in 2011 and his master’s degree in choral conducting from Texas State University in 2015. He has studied conducting under Dr. Jonathan Babcock, Dr. Joey Martin, Dr. Lynn Brinckmeyer, Professor Matthew Oltman, and Dr. Craig Hella Johnson.
Repertoire from past three seasons includes Dreams That Children Dream – Ruth Elaine Schram & Celsie Staggers; Give Us Hope – Jim Papoulis; selections from Friday Afternoons – Benjamin Britten; When Children Sing – Mary Goetze; Yonder Come Day – Judith Cook Tucker; Little Birch Tree – arr. Mary Goetze; Wink to the Little Baby – Mary Goetze; Painless Opera – arr. Phyllis Wolfe-White; Zoo Illogical – Clare Grundman; Festival Sanctus – John Leavitt; Bee! I’m Expecting You! – Emma Lou Diemer; The Dream Keeper – Rollo Dilworth; Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around – arr. Rollo Dilworth; Three Waking Dreams – Jack Wilds (commissioned 2015); I’m Nobody, Who Are You? – Thomas Pavlechko (Commissioned 2015); Mass of the Children – John Rutter; Durme, Durme – arr. Audrey Snyder; I’ve Gotta Crow – arr. Sally Albrecht; Sesere Eeye – arr. Mark O’Leary; Gloria Tibi – Leonard Bernstein.