Guest Column: ‘We are all brothers and sisters in this world …’

By Dorothy Paige-Turner

This is the first line spoken by one of the children in a musical performance by the Council Choraleers, a culturally-diverse chorus of youth ages 9-12 from the greater Rockford community. Participants were recruited from all public and private schools, and require no auditions or fees.

Rehearsals began Tuesday, Jan. 15 (appropriately because of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday). Dr. King’s philosophy of “… all God’s children living together in peace and freedom” is stressed through the musical selections and spoken words within the performances: “United We Sing,” “We Are One,” “Sing Out America,” “A Song of Peace” and “Show Me Some Respect.” These are only a few songs the youth have learned and performed in the short amount of time they have been together.

Major goals include not only developing the “natural” voices of the youth, but creating excitement about singing, celebrating the human spirit, establishing an environment that will foster unity, harmony, understanding and respect among the various cultures. This chorus assists in developing competent, confident performers in addition to teaching them the importance of volunteering their talents to enlighten others. The “no audition” element removes the fear of publicly singing solo, with the participant eventually becoming more comfortable with the sound of his or her voice. When auditions are a requirement for other activities, they are more confident.

Funding support from the director, Dorothy Paige-Turner, and Kiwanis Charities, with in-kind sponsorship and support from the Rockford Area Arts Council makes this very unique opportunity for our area youth possible. There are very few opportunities for our youth to participate in activities that do not require a fee. Today’s economic situation eliminates the possibility for some families to engage their children in quality performing arts activities. This Community Chorus targets that demographic.

The Council Choraleers presently includes youth from public schools in Rockford, Machesney Park and Loves Park. We have performed for Court Street United Methodist Church as a “thank-you” concert for allowing us the use of the Chapel for rehearsals; Christ the Carpenter United Methodist Church, where two of the participants attend; the Baha’i Community for their New Year Celebration (several youth are members); Kiwanis Charities “thank-you” concert for the purchase of the chorus T-shirts; Wesley Willows residents as a “good will” gesture to our seniors.

Upcoming performances include Midway Village and Museum Center’s “Civil War Days Lamplight Tour” at 7 p.m., Friday, May 3. The chorus will share songs from the Civil War, which will include African-American spirituals, and songs of freedom, selections the soldiers sang to prepare for battles, children’s game songs, “Dixie” and “The Battle Hymn.”

At 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 7, in the Court Street United Methodist Church Chapel, the Choraleers will present a concert as a part of “Wright Out of the Box” project, sponsored by the Rockford Lutheran Schools. Admission is free.

The Council Choraleers invite all children ages 9-12 from public and private schools in the greater Rockford area to join us as we resume rehearsals in mid-September on Tuesdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Chapel of Court Street United Methodist Church, 215 N. Court St., Rockford. For more information, call the Rockford Area Arts Council at (815) 963-6765,, or Dorothy Paige-Turner at (815) 877-6582. Check us out on Facebook at Rockford Area Arts Council. Reminder: no auditions or fees!

Dorothy Paige-Turner is a music educator and performing artist.

From the May 1-7, 2013, issue

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