On June 18, 25 members of the Statesboro Youth Chorale serenaded passengers of the 11:38 a.m. Jet Blue flight from Savannah to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The singers were traveling to New York City to sing in Carnegie Hall. That moment was one of several lifetime memories for the singers and their chaperones, who spent five days in New York.
The Youth Chorale was chosen through a competitive audition to sing with the prestigious Choirs of America organization at Carnegie Hall. The chorale joined five other choirs, from California, Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. In addition to the Carnegie Hall performance, the choir participated in a workshop with the cast of Disney’s Newsies and a workshop with Bryce Pinkham, the leading actor of the Tony Award-winning 2014 Best Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
Besides workshops, rehearsals and performances, the singers packed a lot of sightseeing into their busy schedule. Highlights included an impromptu flash mob for the lunchtime crowd at Grand Central Station, a guided tour through Greenwich Village and SoHo, a trip to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, dinners in Chinatown and Little Italy, and ferry rides to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The chorale members also sang in an adjudicated performance at Queens College and attended Broadway productions of Aladdin and Newsies. They even found time to shop and enjoy beautiful weather in Central Park.
This was the sixth trip the Statesboro Youth Chorale has taken. Past trips have been to choir festivals in England; Disney World; Indianapolis; Charleston, South Carolina; and Cincinnati.
“When choir members travel and sing together, they form bonds and memories that are uniquely strong,” said Sarah Hancock, the artistic director of the Youth Chorale. “These kids will never forget singing in Grand Central Station and seeing 200 or so people stop, listen and get their phones out to video. It was truly magical.”
Ten days after returning to Statesboro, Hancock took 11 rising fifth- and sixth-graders to Atlanta to sing in the American Choral Directors Association Summer Statewide Honor Choir at Spivey Hall.
“It makes me so happy that a whole new generation of singing travelers was born,” Hancock said.
The Youth Chorale is open to any child who loves to sing. The chorale provides age-appropriate vocal training for children from first grade through high school. The Claxton Youth Singers, a satellite program for third- through fifth-graders in Claxton, will continue this coming year.
“We’ve added an all-boys choir this year,” Hancock said. “This is open to middle and high school aged boys — both changed and unchanged voices. We have a great young man, Nick Flott, to direct this group. It will be a great experience.”
Hancock believes that every child can learn to sing and benefit from musical training and encourages all children who love singing to join the Youth Chorale. First- and second-graders can sign up for the Seraphim Choir.
For children in third grade and up who have not been part of the Youth Chorale in the past, Hancock said she would like to hear them sing a simple song, like “Happy Birthday,” and listen to some simple vocal exercises. This allows children to be placed at the appropriate training level for their voice.
Registration for fall programs runs through Aug. 25, and you can register in person from 4:30–6:30 p.m. at the Averitt Center.
Youth Choral choirs begin in early August and go through May and will perform several times this coming year. The first stage performance is “Christmas Around the World,” scheduled for Nov. 21–23. In March, the chorale will present “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
All Statesboro Youth Chorale performances are open to the public, and tickets are available through the Emma Kelly Theater box office, by calling (912) 212-2787 or purchasing online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org.