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
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
"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 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
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
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
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