While part of a summer musical performance program called Camp eXpresso, Selinsgrove freshman Mason Clark, 14, said he was encouraged to try out for the Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale.
He found the audition process to be “pretty easy,” he said.
“They don’t expect you to be perfect,” he said. “They want you to have paid attention in school chorus and understand how to read basic music.”
During the auditions, chorale leaders also get to hear the students’ voice types, so they know where to place them once they join.
Clark said once in the chorale, the leaders teach the singers a lot. And not only has he learned much about music, he’s also grown in a number of other areas.
“The friends I have made — I know some of them will be friends my whole life,” he said.
In addition, going through the audition process for the chorale, he said, “gave me the courage to try out for other things like lacrosse and a community theater play, and a children’s opera at Bucknell.”
“I wouldn’t have done any of that if I hadn’t been in the chorale first,” he said. “I always knew that I love to sing, but I discovered that I also love performing on the stage.”
The SVYC, open to students in grades two through 12, is an educational outreach of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, founded in 1993.
Auditions are held in January for the spring concert, and in August for the fall concert. The next audition is on Monday, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Sharon Lutheran Church in Selinsgrove.
According to director Coleen Renshaw, they look for skills such as “pitch matching, being able to sing in tune, rhythm, reading skills and tone quality of the voice, and which group the singer would fit into best.”
The Chorale is comprised of three groups: the Preparatory group for grades 2 to 5, the Camerata singers for grades 6 to 8, and the Valley Singers for grades 9 through 12. Singers who want to be considered for the higher groups should contact Renshaw to schedule an audition.
The size of the Youth Chorale varies with each session. In the fall, 45 singers participated.
“The Youth Chorale provides an additional opportunity for those children who love to sing,” Renshaw said. “In our programs, we continue to promote strong choral singing skills and to foster a love of great choral singing. They are able to share their love for singing with others who also enjoy singing in a choir.”
Youth Chorale members rehearse Monday nights for about 12 to 13 weeks before the fall and spring concerts (the first rehearsal this year will be Jan. 27). In addition, the youth chorale has also been invited several times to collaborate with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale in the popular Christmas Candlelight performance, as well as other programs throughout the year, Renshaw said. Next year, the singers will perform with the SVC performance of “Carmina Burana.”
This year’s spring concert will include a special commissioned piece that is being written by Michaela Wagner, a former member of the Youth Chorale and a graduate of Midd-West High School and Susquehanna University, where she studied composition.