Participating in a choir comes with many benefits such as music education, admirable character traits and exposure to wide varieties of music. Wallis Peterson, artistic director of GCSF, said, “Our choristers receive a world-class musical education that is unparalleled in our area. While the current trend in our society may be to consider art an “extra,” it is something truly indispensable. It is part of human nature to sing, to dance, to paint. Beyond that, GCSF gives girls an opportunity to truly get to know and work with girls outside their immediate family and community. The benefits of developing the ability to work positively and industriously together towards a common goal with people who may not look like you, worship like you or have the same economic or cultural background as you, goes far beyond the rehearsal room.”
Peterson continued, “We are classically based, so girls learn the roots of Western music by singing the great masters like Bach and Brahms and Debussy. We also sing a great deal of music from around the world because I think one of the best ways to really get to know another culture is by singing their music. In fact, at last count, we’ve sung in over twenty five different languages, and we’ve sung music from as early as the eleventh century, right up to music composed this year.”
Holly Aragon Jones, FSSB president, speaks to the benefits of choir on their website: “We as humans, so the neurologists say, are hard-wired to make music. Singing in choirs is the most natural way to make music and express oneself. By encouraging your son to sing in a choir and to learn how to demonstrate excellence as a group, as a parent you’re making an investment of incalculable worth in your child’s life. You are giving them the gift of music — indeed a “lifelong joy.”
With four years of experience in GCSF, I can personally provide a firsthand account of the benefits of being in a choir. At first I didn’t want to join; my parents practically dragged me to auditions, but since I was accepted I’ve had the opportunity to receive extensive music theory training, knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet and memorization of songs in multiple languages. Participating in choir has introduced me to loads of people all from different cultures and backgrounds; it’s become a second family for me, filled with wonderful people who are all striving for the common goal of musical excellence. It’s given me an outlet to express myself and my emotions through song. GCSF’s concerts are at All Saints Episcopal Church and Broward Centre of Performing Arts, but I’ve had the chance to sing at places like Lynn University, Trinity Cathedral and Downtown Disney with choirs like Master Chorale, Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir and Radcliffe Choral Society.
GCSF was started in the spring of 2005 and is run by artistic director, Wallis Peterson. “I wanted a place where girls could sing music specifically for their voices, in an atmosphere where they could be comfortable, just be themselves,” said Peterson. “Our mission is to transform girls’ lives through musical excellence. The effort, time, dedication, and emotional vulnerability required to achieve that excellence is a tall order, but it’s through those things – through striving diligently for excellence as a team – that the transformation happens.”
Auditions are for ages six through thirteen. Each child, when accepted, is placed in an ensemble within the choir based on their age and voice development. From youngest to oldest the sub-choirs of GCSF are Primes, Apprentice, Lyric, and Concert. The price varies based on what choir the child is in.
FSSB was started in 1975 and has been run by many directors since then. Recently FSSB selected Dr. Copher as the new executive director and hired Brett Karlin, currently also the artistic director of Master Chorale of South Florida. He said, “This organization has a rich history of musical excellence and community service and stands as a beacon of music education in South Florida. I look forward to working with the choristers to create unique, engaging, and inspiring programs that will appeal to a wide audience of listeners, as well as representing the cultural fabric of South Florida through nation and international performance tours.”
FSSB contains for sub-choirs: Training, Residence, Concert and Second Generation Singers. Those auditioning usually are around 3rd or 4th grade; however, as long as students possess the necessary music and vocal competencies they will be allowed to audition at the beginning of the school year. Their performances take place at All Saints Episcopal Church and Parker Playhouse.
If you know a child interested in participating, call GCSF at 954-533-9227, email [email protected] or visit www.girlchoir.org. For FSSB call 954-563-2697, email [email protected] or visit www.singingsons.org.
Gabriella Morris is a homeschooled student and intern at Good News. She can be contacted at [email protected]