Children’s chorus forming

Published 10:56 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

Children in the area are encouraged to audition for the newly-forming Suffolk Children’s Chorus this weekend and next weekend.

The chorus is being formed by the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, which plans holiday and spring concerts for the group. Auditions are scheduled for Sept. 11 and Sept. 18.

“One thing that we felt the area needed was more opportunities for kids to train and perform in the performing arts,” Suffolk Center executive director Paul Lasakow said. “While there are certainly opportunities in Norfolk and Virginia Beach to do that, we thought there was a clear need for those types of opportunities here. Geographically, it’s very difficult to get your kids to Norfolk or Virginia Beach for rehearsals.”

Children auditioning will be asked to sing a verse and chorus of “America the Beautiful” without accompaniment, and also to match tones played on a piano.

Veteran children’s chorus director Breena Ray will lead the group. Lasakow called her the “consummate professional.”

“It is a unique opportunity for the children of the community to come together to learn, make music and friends through a process that is both active and fun,” said Ray, who olds a master’s degree in music education from Syracuse University. “The kids will experience a wide repertoire of compositions from many eras, and, most importantly, reap the benefit of a musical education which is proven to improve overall academic performance as well as SAT scores.”

Lasakow said the children’s chorus will work closely with area schools to harmonize with daytime music classes.

“We will be working with the schools to make sure we mesh with their curriculum so we’re complementing each other,” Lasakow said. “One important element of this program is that, when available, the choir members will be required to participate in the choral program at their school. In this way, we are supplementing rather than supplanting the musical education that they are already receiving.”

The center’s director of education touted the relationship between an arts education and overall academic performance.

“As an arts center, we have a responsibility to offer training to not only the next generation of artists but also future patrons of the arts,” Jody Mazur said. “There is a clear and proven positive correlation between academic performance and participation in the creative process.”

Rehearsals for the choir will be held on weeknights from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Suffolk Center, 110 W. Finney Ave. in downtown. Tuition will be required of all participants, but limited need-based scholarships are available through the center.

Auditions will be held Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. Parents are asked to call 923-0003 in advance to reserve an appointment time.