| Apr 20, 2006


Feature Article - April 20, 2006

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Feature Article - April 20, 2006

The power of music...the power of song:Young Choristers celebrate 20 years of musical excellence

"It starts with just a single voice…

that lingers in the air…

When voices come together…

the message can be strong . . . "

Sally K. Albrecht and Jay Althouse's song “Just a Single Voice” aptly reflects the power of choral music and the friendships it can inspire in its participants.

Heart_and_soul

The Young Choristers Limestone (YCL), which began in 1986 as the Young Choristers Frontenac, celebrates two decades of vocal artistry this year. The YCL will recognize this significant milestone with a free community concert April 29, 6 p.m. at Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute, reception to follow. Choir directors, students, and teachers hope that all former members and friends will attend this special performance. The idea of a district choir was conceived by Jim Coles, Coordinator of the Arts for the Frontenac County Board of Education. The aim was to promote excellence in vocal music among students in Frontenac County schools. This district choir started under the musical direction of Charlotte Clark, who continues to conduct today. Ms. Clark is tremendously dedicated to the choir. Over the last two decades, she has introduced music to thousands of students. The tremendous success of the choir can be attributed in part to Charlotte 's unwavering dedication to vocal music, to her students and to bringing that glory to the community. In fact, the YCL has always been much more than just a school choir, it is a community choir, and for 20 years the YCL has performed at almost every significant event in this region, from royal visits to plowing matches, from festivals to parliament.

As Samantha Smith, a former Young Chorister recounts, "The opportunity [to sing with Young Choristers Frontenac] made me realize that I had a voice. Having someone handpick me out from school, tell me I had potential, and then allow me to perform, gave me an outlet as a child." She adds, "It was the start of a love for singing that has continued up to today, and it helped me find musical theatre, which I excelled at throughout high school and university."

The first choristers were students in grades 5 - 8, chosen by audition. Their first concert was held at St. Paul 's Church in December 1986 with Charlotte Clark conducting and Brenda Hunter (now Superintendent of Human Resources) as the accompanist. As time passed, this single choir grew to what it is today - four choirs, and 175 voices strong. The four choirs are: Young Choristers Senior Choir, Junior Choir, West Choir, and North Choir, representing various areas of the Limestone District School Board. All choirs perform individually throughout the school year and come together for joint concerts in December and May.

YCL Western Choir Director Christina Wotherspoon truly understands the power of song. In fact her musical career started with the Northern Choir . . . when she was just a student at Hinchinbrooke Public School ! "I attribute my direction in music to my involvement with the choir, and Charlotte 's enthusiasm," explains Wotherspoon. She says she was a very shy student before she joined the choir. "My experiences in the choir got me fully involved, and out in front." She adds, "In the north, where I grew up, there were a limited number of opportunities. The Young Choristers was, and still is, a unique initiative that brings a variety of students, with a variety of skills, together."

Many dedicated and talented individuals have contributed to this choral legacy including Betty Wagner, Rick Cairns, Sherri Shenton, Phyllis Wood, Jan LeClair, and accompanist Kevin Long. Students in the former Lennox and Addington County Board of Education participated in the L&A County Choir from 1985 - 1989 under the direction of Carol Butler (vice- principal, Frontenac Public School), accompanist Margot Smith, and manager Jim Zeher.

Today, conductors Elaine Gain and Christina Wotherspoon, along with longtime accompanist Ted Brown, and Carolyn Reynolds, Pam Dawson, and Barb Agnew, join Charlotte Clark in the passionate mission to introduce students to the power of music, and the power of song.

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