IN FOCUS: Young Singers Join National Honors Choirs02.24.2006
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Eight singers with the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy, based in Johnson City, Tenn., will sing with honors choirs during the March 2006 national conference of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators (OAKE) in Charlotte, N.C. MECCA consists of the East Tennessee Children's Choir and the Highlands Youth Ensemble.
Joining the honors choir will be Sarah Compton, Heidi Faust, Grace and Rachel Grunstra, Ramsey Gross, Annie Hopson, Claire Morison and Katelyn Merrill. Members of the Highlands Youth Ensemble will be honored for their musical talents this month when they perform with the National Youth Choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the Fields Studies International (FSI) choral festival. Participating will be Lauren Arp, Sarah Compton, Ryan Dowling-Soka, Martha Eason, Nikki Fritts, Rachel Grunstra, Benjamin Loy, Will McConnell, Steven Mott, Sam Nolen and Sam Rosolina. The FSI program was established in 1969 to integrate an extension study trip with an instructor's curriculum.
OAKE showcases three honors choirs — children, youth and concert. Several hundred vocal students from across the United States audition each year for the chance to participate in these choirs. The OAKE was established in 1973 to promote Zoltan Kodaly's concept of "music for everyone" through the improvement of music education in the schools. Kodaly was a prominent Hungarian composer and musician in the early 20th century, who spent much of his career promoting the musical education of his homeland. In a lecture on children's choirs in 1929, he said, "Teach music and singing at school in such a way that it is not torture, but a joy for the pupil; instill a thirst for finer music in him, a thirst which will last for a lifetime. If the child is not filled at least once by the life-giving stream of music during the most susceptible period — between his 6th and 16th years — it will hardly be of any use to him later on." Kodaly believed music was an integral part of a person's intellectual and emotional development. "Music is spiritual food for everybody," he said. "So, I studied how to make [good music] accessible to [more people]."
For more information on MECCA, visit their website: www.meccacademy.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-360-3201.