- Christa Loescher and Kevin Ginter
There are few sounds that match the sweetness of children's voices singing together. Whether it's performing classics in the school musical or belting out radio hits in the back of the car, kids sing with a purity and abandon that sounds like nothing else. It's a sound that will be heard more often when the Greater Burlington Children's Chorus comes to life this summer. With regular community performances to begin this fall, the chorus is kicking things off with two weeklong summer sessions. The camps, which will provide a fun and exciting introduction to singing with others, are open to all singers, beginner through advanced, who are entering second through 12th grade.
The only prerequisite? An enthusiasm for singing.
The idea for the musical group came to executive director Christa Loescher while driving through the Berkshires last year to pick up one of her kids from college. A children's chorus came on the radio, and "It was so beautiful and inspiring," she said. "I knew right then that I had to work towards establishing such a chorus."
Burlington resident Loescher, who is passionate about music though not herself a trained musician, soon began looking for artistic collaborators. That's how she met Kevin Ginter, now the choral artistic director. A dynamic K-12 music educator at both Christ the King School and Rice Memorial High School, Ginter is a professional opera singer who has performed around the world, including at New York City's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Ginter, who has long dreamed of a Burlington children's chorus, believes right now is the perfect moment to create a new opportunity for kids to sing together. Between COVID-19 restrictions and homeschooling, he said, "People are looking for new outlets for music in a way that we haven't been able to do in so long."
Karen Reed, who will support the chorus as assistant director, loves using games and movement to get kids excited about music. Even though she's about to retire from her career as a music teacher at Hiawatha Elementary School in Essex Junction, she said couldn't resist the opportunity to get involved.
"Music touches so many people deep down," Reed said. "The combination of community and working together for the good of the whole — I think there's a lot of power in that."
Camps will take place at Mater Christi School in Burlington between July 12 and 23. The first session will explore world music, including African drumming, Italian opera and Spanish dance music. The second will teach choral music through folk songs, games, movement and rhythm activities.
Each session will culminate in a short presentation for family and caregivers. But Ginter is quick to point out that novice singers shouldn't be nervous about the experience. "We want it to be fun and not intimidating," he said. "We're more focused on the process than on an actual performance."
In addition, Youth Opera Workshop of Vermont director Sarah Cullins is partnering with the children's chorus to offer a camp geared toward more serious youth singers. Held on the same dates but with evening rehearsals, this two-week-long camp will be for high school students who are either considering a degree in vocal performance or want to develop their voice to its fullest potential.
And though being part of any of the camps comes with no obligation to join the permanent chorus, the camps will help the Greater Burlington Children's Chorus gauge interest in an ongoing choral program for local youth.
Said Ginter: "Music is a universal language that can bring us all together during a time when we're so wanting human connection."