A Group With All the Right Notes
EVER dream of singing and dancing on stage - not when you grow up, but right now? Kids all over the country find a few such opportunities in schools or in community theater. But in Denver, kids as young as second graders can audition for the Colorado Children's Chorale. Singing and dancing on stage becomes second nature as the members of the Chorale grow up into energetic teenagers.Skip to next paragraph
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The Children's Chorale is in its 19th season. It was started in 1974 for the Central City Opera production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Participating children and their parents loved the experience so much, they asked artistic director Duain Wolfe to keep the chorus going.
The Children's Chorale grew - a lot. There are now five separate choirs, with a total of 350 children from grades two through eight. The youngest ones in second grade join the Prep Choir. You might think kids who audition would be chosen strictly on the basis of singing ability. But more important than a good voice is a good attitude - a cheerful, enthusiastic face and something called stage presence. Stage presence is hard to describe, but it has to do with being comfortable on stage and being fun to wa tch for the audience.
A child can stay in Prep Choir from one to three years, depending on how ready he or she might be to go on to the next step. Kids learn the basics about singing and about reading musical notes. Once in awhile, the Prep Choir gets to perform for parents or for a senior center. And each Christmas, the Prep Choir joins up with the other choirs of the Chorale to perform a wonderful program.
The next level is the Apprentice Choir, where the children learn more about music and get some beginning instruction in stage movement - which is a lot like dance, only a little freer. If kids stick with Apprentice for a year or so, they are then ready to progress on to Concert Choir. Concert Choir does most of the performing in the Denver metropolitan area.
In Concert Choir, performers get used to being on stage a lot, remembering where and when to move, remembering to stand up straight so the music will come out clean and strong. Young singers in Concert Choir learn more about music, and they memorize lots of songs for their various programs.
Then, if kids are still excited about choir (and it takes loads of energy and excitement to do a good job on stage), they can go on to Regional Tour Choir. Part of their job is to travel around Colorado performing in schools that have a musical theater focus. They also get to help create a whole musical performance.
Finally, there is National Tour Choir, which has toured around the county for three weeks each year for the past eight years. The National Tour Choir has also had opportunities to travel abroad - to Switzerland, Britain, France - and this year a second trip to the People's Republic of China. (The first time was in 1982).
Imagine being an eighth grader traveling with the choir - most of whom are friends you've known since second grade. You've spent so much time with these kids in rehearsals, performances, and music camp, and you've learned to get along so well, you don't even miss your home too much when you travel. You've already learned how to be away from home every summer in music camp. There are seven adults traveling with you on your big, comfortable bus. And if you should get a little lonely for your parents, the s taff is ready to play games with you or just talk.
But all the kids are there for you, too.
"We all get along really well because we need to," says Anne, an eighth-grader who has been with the Chorale since second grade. "We're all together, so we need to be sort of like a family. I've had one really good friend since the time I started. I've met new friends. Boys and girls get along really well, too."