Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Fort Wayne Childrens Choir


Deb Perry

Whatzup Features Writer

Published January 29, 2004

Heads Up! This article is 18 years old.

They look like any other kids. You know, the ones you see chasing a

ball on the basketball court or staring glassy-eyed at a video game.

They might even resemble those kids who sleep in the messiest rooms

in your house.

Just looking at these kids, you notice that some of them have bold,

ornery expressions, while others offer shy, sweet grins. A glance

across their bright, eager faces reveals their variety – the many

different sizes, shapes, ages and colors.

Yet, each child radiates a self-assurance that can only come from

within. As you watch these kids, you realize that these are children

who have been gently nurtured, trained and encouraged to develop

their talents and let them shine.

These are the kids of the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir (FWCC).

Thousands of children have passed through the ranks of the FWCC

since it began three decades ago under the unassuming name of

Children of Peace Choristers. Founded by Jacelyn Basse in 1973 as a

small school choir, it has grown to this year’s membership of nearly

300 singers from 86 schools throughout the community.

The 2003-2004 season marks the 30th anniversary of the FWCC. To

celebrate that artistic milestone, the choir has released a CD of

live performances and professional studio recordings aptly entitled

Everlasting Melodies. Featuring the organization’s six choir

levels, listeners will hear a sampling of their best selections and

find out just what makes the FWCC the city’s premier children’s

chorale ensemble.

Fred Meads, artistic director of the FWCC since 1999, is excited

about the choir’s newest venture. Now in his fifth season with the

choir, he feels both privileged and proud to be a part of their

growth.

“Professionally recording a CD challenged us to reach the next level

of artistic excellence,” Meads explained, “both for the organization

and for the singers.”

What served as a creative challenge for the FWCC resulted in a

collection of beautiful choral music for the rest of us. The CD

features a broad range of musical styles, including secular, sacred,

ethnic, jazz, folk and classical. Traditional favorites such as

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “God Bless America,” sung by the

organizations two advanced choirs, are combined with shorter, fun

melodies by the beginning and intermediate choirs.

“Although the advanced choirs carry the major portion of the CD,”

Kim Hinzy, executive director of the FWCC, said, “we wanted all six

of the choirs to have their moment to shine. And by including all of

the choirs, it gives listeners the unique opportunity to hear how the

music increases in difficulty with each level and how the children’s

voices change as they mature.”

The Apprentice Choir (Beginning Level 1) is where it all starts at

the FWCC. Young singers are introduced to basic vocal technique and

music reading. They sing in sweet, high unison and learn through fun

music games and activities. On the new CD, the Apprentice Choir

performs a sprightly tune called “Carol of the Cuckoo.”

The Chorister Choir (Beginning Level 2) moves into the basic

understanding of musical techniques. The children begin to sing in

simple parts. On the CD, they perform the lyrical melody “Dance of

the Willows.”

The Lyric Choir (Intermediate Level 1) expands its training to more

difficult part singing, sight reading and music theory. Their voices

sound steadier, but remain high and childlike. On the CD, the Lyric

Choir performs the more challenging songs “Troika Ride” and

“December’s Rose.”

The Treble Choir (Intermediate Level 2) features singers who have

demonstrated they can sing in parts and do well with sight reading.

They face greater musical challenges to help them prepare for the

advanced choirs. On the CD, their voices sound sure and strong on the

upbeat tunes “American Folk Rhapsody” and “Jazz-Man.”

The Concert Choir (Advanced Level 1) features the most advanced of

the young, “unchanged” voices of the FWCC. The members sing

independently in three parts and begin developing foreign language

skills to use on classical and ethnic numbers. With their advanced

skills also come more challenges such as music history and

appreciation and advanced music theory. On the CD, the Concert Choir

sounds almost angelic on “To Music,” “Go Down Moses,” “Blessed Be the

Name of the Lord,” “Tomorrow Will Be My Dancing Day,” “God Bless

America,” “Dance on my Heart,” “Go Where I Send Thee!,” “It Don’t

Mean a Thing” and “Everlasting Melody.”

The Youth Choral (Advanced Level 2) is when the tone of things

starts to sound different. Typically, the members of the Youth

Chorale are in grades 9 to 12, which means many of the young men are

singing with “changed” voices. The members handle advanced vocal

training and continue to expand on their other studies. On the CD,

they sound solid and professional on the songs “Je Le Vous Dirail!,”

“We Glorify Thy Name O God,” “No Rocks A-Cryin” and “Bridge Over

Troubled Water.”

Including several of the choir’s live performances with the studio

recordings was an excellent idea. Those songs lend a feeling of

energy to a CD that might have turned out sounding too sweet for its

own good. Live performances were recorded at such notably acoustic

venues as the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, the Indianapolis

Convention Center, the Embassy Centre, and at First Wayne Street

United Methodist Church.

The culmination of the choirs and recording styles create an hour of

uplifting music.

Everlasting Melodies is sold at all Wooden Nickel Stores for

$15. For more information about the CD or the Fort Wayne Children’s

Choir, check out their website at www.fwcchoir.org or call them at

260-483-7464.

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