When a child sings, it is honest. It is expression, usually of joy and hope, and three local music lovers want to bring a once popular children’s choir program back to Statesboro so more children can experience the magic of music
The Statesboro Youth Chorale has been on hiatus for several months, but Dr. Michael Braz, Dr. Tamara Harper and fellow music aficionado Emily Kochetta hope to revive the popular children’s activity. Actually, the program has already begun, and the trio anticipates a robust participation.
Statesboro Youth Chorale is for children ages 4 to 14 whose voices still have a juvenile quality and have not undergone the voice changes of puberty. The regional children’s chorus meets Fridays from 3:30–5:30 p.m. at Statesboro’s First Presbyterian Church on Fair Road.
Since this year is short, the fee is $125, Braz said. A full year next year will be $150 per child, but the group hopes to build finances to enable scholarships for those in need, he said. A full year’s schedule meets August through March, but it’s not too late to join. All choirs (different age groups) perform at least twice a year in concert, he said.
According to the Statesboro Youth Chorale’s Facebook page, children in first through third grade do not have to audition.
“Children in fourth grade and up should attend a one-on-one audition, where they will be asked to sing a familiar tune like ‘Happy Birthday’ and repeat simple rhythmic patterns,” the site states.
The Statesboro Youth Chorale is not a new concept but a revision of the original, Braz said. He and Georgia Southern University music professor Sandra McLain first formed the program as a private endeavor in 1993. After a few years it lapsed, but in 2004 music professor Sarah Hancock helped Braz bring it back. The Statesboro Youth Chorale then formed a partnership with the Averitt Center for the Arts, but the program once again dissolved in 2019.
A lack of interest was never an issue, however, and the Statesboro Youth Chorale has always held a strong presence in the community, Braz said.
He should know. Braz is entering his “second half century” in working with children’s choruses, helping introduce them to the delights of music. He began working with children in 1969, and one chorus he started — the Capital Children’s Chorus in Tallahassee — is still going strong.
The trio of Braz, Harper and Kochetta is bringing the local program back to its roots by holding the practices and concerts at Statesboro’s First Presbyterian Church. That is where it was originally based.
The program began in January and will hold a concert in the spring. Already there are dozens involved, but the three hope to see it grow in membership as well as volunteers. For now, none of the three are paid; it is totally a volunteer effort “until we build up a financial base,” Braz said.
The excitement between the three is almost tangible as they talk about reviving the well-loved program.
“Music is so powerful, and we want to share it with our kids,” Kochetta said. “We want to give them what they might not find in other places.”
“Once they learn a song, it is theirs — no one can take it away from them.”
The program not only affects children but their families and others as well, Harper said.
“The community the Youth Chorale has started has been very powerful. Our town has so many musical families, and there is a real need for community choirs.”
While Braz was a founding member of the chorale, Harper and Kochetta are each former directors.
“We are three people passionate about music, and it just fell into,” Harper said.
For more information about a child joining or auditioning or to volunteer, send an email to email@example.com or call (404) 918-5996,
The Statesboro Youth Chorale will hold its first concert since its revival on March 29 at 6 p.m. at Statesboro First Presbyterian Church. The concert is open to the public.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.