March 06, 2017
By Angye Morrison
According to the website of the Averitt Center for the Arts, the mission of the Statesboro Youth Chorale is “to provide quality music education and music performance education with the goal of attaining the highest level of artistic excellence in choral music.”
If Dr. Tamara Watson Harper, artistic director for the program, has anything to say about it, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Now in her second year at the helm of the program, Harper says all of the pieces are in place for the program to grow and become something incredible.
“Our faculty is amazing and I’m really excited to see our program grow,” she said. She encourages the community to not only support the program, but become involved.
“Music is so important for the growth of a child. There are developments in the brain that happen when you study music. Music brings something to the development of a child that cannot be easily replaced by anything else. I’m hoping that we’ll get more parents bringing their kids to our program,” she said.
Harper says the program has drawn students from throughout Statesboro and the surrounding area. Children begin in the program at age 4, but children are encouraged to join at any age and at any level.
The choirs are kept small, Harper said, so that they can focus on basic skill building and technique. Students are uniquely equipped when they leave the program.
“They will leave the program with a sense of music appreciation. They will be able to read music and communicate the text through music to an audience,” she said. Students who are interested in music education or performance as a career will also receive guidance and preparation.
The season for the Chorale goes from August to March. This year’s season-ending performance will be held on March 26 at 7 p.m., at the Averitt. Tickets are $10 for adults and youth.
The program will feature Dolce, the choir for four- and five-year-olds, under the direction of Emily Kochetta. This is the first year for the choir, which will focus on performing simple songs and dance moves, to get their “feet wet in performing,” Harper said.
Seraphim, the choir for first and second grade students, will also perform, with Jenna Mabie as their director, in addition to Bel Canto ( grades 3-5/6) and Cantabile (Grades 3-5), under the direction of Matthew Kersey and Amber Miller, respectively. Harper says a select group of middle-schoolers will also be doing some duets and solos.
An exciting new addition to the program this year is the new middle school choir, Mambo (grades 6-8). The choir has been a tremendous success, Harper said.
“It’s been a joy to watch them progress as they learn how to use their voices. I’ve seen them really grow and blossom, not only vocally, but also with their confidence,” she said. “There’s a lot of excitement around the middle school choir. They’ve been doing wonderfully well in their performances.”
The older students will perform as part of Vox Novum, under the direction of Russell Watkins, new this year to the program at Averitt. Harper is particularly excited about his contributions to the program.
“He has a wonderful spirit as a person, and he is such a gifted teacher. He has a true passion for these kids and the art,” she said.
Vox Novum, along with the high school show choir, Viva Voce, under Harper’s direction, and her private Solo Cantare students, will be performing in the West Atlanta area on March 10, 11 and 12. This will be their final performances of the season.
The students will perform in Carrolton with the high school show choir there, and will participate in a master class, as well as a joint performance. They will stop off in Griffin for a special performance for senior citizens on the way home, as well as an end of the year awards ceremony for the group.
Harper says the trip will be a great time for the students to bond.
“They don’t have a lot of time for that during rehearsals because they are so fast paced,” she said.
All of the choirs have performed throughout the season, including performances at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as performances in the fair parade and the downtown holiday celebration, a Veterans Day concert and the Winter Showcase. They have also learned that responsibility comes with talent.
“They have been given this gift, and it’s important that they learn to give back to the community,” Harper said. So the students went out on the Tuesday before Christmas and sang to shut-ins, in nursing homes, in the hospital and even on the street corner.
“It was amazing to see the joy it brought,” Harper said. “There was something really magical in that moment.”
And Harper says that same magic will be there when the younger choirs perform at the Averitt on March 26, and she encourages the community to come out and support the students and the program. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the Statesboro Youth Chorale.
“We need community support. We encourage everyone to come out. Music is powerful. It’s magical,” she said.