July 27, 2007

Openings remain for children's choir camp

by Andrea Hahn


CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois Children's Choir may not be throwing out the first pitch at Busch Stadium, but members hope to be on pitch as they sing "God Bless America" when the St. Louis Cardinals take on the San Diego Padres on Aug. 8.

The opportunity to sing at the ballpark is the highlight of the Southern Illinois Children's Choir camp, hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. It is also a major fundraiser for the children's choir. The choir has a block of tickets for the game to sell at a discounted price of $30 each. Campers get their tickets for $20 and ride a bus to the game.

Tickets are available through Lucinda Rogers of the choir parents' association. She can be reached at 618/273-8262 or by email at lurogers99@yahoo.com. Prepayment is required to reserve a ticket. Ticket buyers can arrange to have tickets mailed to them or can pick them up during the camp.

The Aug. 8 game is Ice Mountain Autograph Night. Current players sign autographs from 6 to 6:30 p.m. for fans age 20 and younger. Former players sign from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. for all fans. The game begins at 7:10 p.m.

The children's choir day camp runs Aug. 6-10 and is open to all Southern Illinois youth entering grades one through nine, though the ballpark singers have to be at least entering fourth grade. The younger children are part of the camp training choir, and participate in age-appropriate singing games and activities.

Choir campers also learn choral ensemble singing, movement with singing and handbells. The camp ends with a short concert at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, that includes the youngsters in the training choir. The concert is at Quigley Auditorium.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews who want to cover a rehearsal or the concert should contact Southern Illinois Children's Choir Director Alice Berry to make arrangements. She can be reached at 618/687-2064 or by email at joyousinging@yahoo.com.

Though the camp is affiliated with the Southern Illinois Children's Choir, membership in the choir is not required to attend. However, prospective choir members can arrange to audition during the camp. The choir has four levels, three of them requiring an audition for membership. The Kinder Choir is an introductory musical experience open to children ages four through pre-school. No audition is required. The auditions are for the Apprentice Choir, a beginning level for children in grades one through four; the Singer Choir, for grades four through six; and the Chorister Choir, a touring group for those in grades four through nine.

Membership in the choir entails commitment for the children and their families. Practices are weekly throughout the school year, and the Parents Board and other committees rely on parents' involvement. There is also an annual tuition fee, which may be offset by need-based scholarships. The reward, however, is in the performance with this traveling choral group. SICC performance venues include the State Capitol in Springfield, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., the Shepley Music and Art series at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C., the Grand Foyer Series in the Kennedy Center for the Arts, St. James Cathedral in Chicago, Opryland in Nashville, Tenn., Crescent City Children's Choral Festival in New Orleans, and the International Children's Choir Festival in England, including a mass performance with 20 other children's choirs at Canterbury Cathedral. Closer to home, the choir performs two concerts annually, one for the winter holiday season and one in the spring, as well as numerous charity events throughout the year.

Children's' Choir Director Alice Berry said membership in the choir is an unbeatable learning experience. "Because of our affiliation with the University, the choir members get opportunities they would not have otherwise," she said, noting that memories made in choir last a lifetime.

Berry is devoted to musical education as well as performing. She emphasizes "good vocal health practices," a positive attitude toward community service with song, and instilling a love of music. "What we try to do is plant those seeds and watch them bloom," she said. "And we try to get the music to live in their hearts so that, when they sing, they will touch at least one person."

Prospective campers may still register. Cost is $55, plus $10 for a SICC T-shirt. Forms are available online at www.siu.edu/~music. For more information, contact Alice Berry at joyousinging@yahoo.com or 618/687-2064.