For the past week I've been stationed near Chicago - just outside in fact, in a little town called Glen Ellyn. It's been a brilliant week of choral visiting!
Quite close by to my hotel was Anima - the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus. This is a fine organisation, led by Artistic Director Charles Sundquist - who is quite new to the organisation. I visited their concert choir and touring choir, which was great to see. In a similar way to Indianapolis, they built in theory into their rehearsals which included Kodaly methods. I was also lucky enough to see their chamber choir, which is an extension of their touring choir.
The children and young people clearly have fun in rehearsals, though are number were missing this week due to holiday time. They are also blessed with a fantastic community centre, which doubles up as their rehearsal space and office! It was great to be made so welcome and to meet their superb team.
I also visitied the Napervill Young Singers, situated a little further away. They have an incredible TEN choirs and I was lucky enough to visit them three times, seeing vitutally every ensemble. Their warm, friendly approach was evident as soon as I walked in - as was their level of musicianship. Their choirs have a clear progression from age 5 right through to 18, many of which rehearse girls and boys separately. This has not only had the effect of increasing the number of boys - but girls too!
Angie Johnson, their Artistic Director, leads a brilliant team of conductors, who build in plenty of theory, note reading and Kodaly - resulting in a high level of excellence. What I also liked was the way their rehearsals began with an unannounced song - everyone just starts singing, then moving straight into an enery-packed warm up! It was great to meet Neveen Michael, too, who is the president of The Board!
As I write this I am now in Canada, staying at a place called Hamilton - just outside Toronto. I'll be visiting the Hamilton Children's Choir, Oakville Choir for Children and Youth and (hopefully) the Tornoto Children's Chorus. I'm sure my last week of traveling will be a real highlight!