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SPRING 2013 vol. vI, no. III

photos inside!

winter joy highlights


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in tune: the newsletter of the children’s chorus of maryland



vol. vi, no. iii

Music of South America is known for its Latin dance rhythms. Lyric Choir brings a delightful Brazilian folk song “A Zing-A Za” arranged by Mary Goetze to life, featuring tambourine, guiro, and maraca rhythms and layered countermelodies. Lyric Choir is also pleased to debut Dr. Betty Bertaux’s “Dance” in Baltimore. With poetry written by Elizabeth Porter Eachus as a 6th grader in Vienna, Virginia, Dr. Bertaux’s beautiful lyric melody will be visually presented by students from the Bryn Mawr School’s Dance Company. American Folk Music is also based on dance rhythms originally performed on fiddle, guitar, and banjo. Treble Choir performs the rollicking nonsensical “Fod” from Oklahoma arranged by Cristi Cary Miller, and Lyric Choir performs the catchy Appalachian mixolydian melody “Old Joe Clark” arranged by Mary Goetze. Concert Choir performs the delightful “Java Jive” to close their portion of the program.

Dance! W

hen I was a kid, my mom gave me a poster of a ballerina in mid-leap for my birthday one year. We had it framed and every day, I woke up to the sight of the graceful dancer. I took recreational ballet classes for a few years before giving up my dance dreams. Though my soul felt dance at its core, my body didn’t! So, my dance dreams became music dreams and I’ve learned through the years, the disciplines aren’t all that different.

CCM students will soon be performing their spring repertoire, all of which is focused on music derived from dance rhythms or poetic texts that talk about dance. Let me give you a sneak peak of some of our repertoire selections! The Pavane was a stately Renaissance couple dance. In 1887, Gabriel Fauré composed a piece for cello and orchestra that reflected the dance form and was colored by harmonic juxtaposition of the minor and major third in late nineteenth century French music. Eventually, Fauré’s Pavane included choir and mimed dancing. Concert Choir’s rendition will include some visual surprises and features choristers in duets, trios, quartets, and small ensembles.

Spirituals, rooted in the rhythms and melodies of African music which celebrated every part of life with elaborate song and dance rituals are part of the spring line-up as well. Lyric Choir sings a “Spiritual Quodlibet” and Concert Choir performs Moses Hogan’s “Music Down In My Soul.” The Tarantella is an Italian dance that will be performed with lightning-quick speed in Neopolitan Italian by Lyric Choir. According to folklore, the Tarantella was a frenzied dance that was supposed to reverse the poisonous bite of the tarantula. Concert Choir performs Malcom Daglish’s French-Canadian “Reel a’ Bouche”. A repetitive dance tune in duple meter, this particular Reel is a complicated mouth-music piece for choir and Hammer Dulcimer. Concert Choir will also perform a set of Kodály pieces that not only show the aural sonorities of Hungarian folk music, but also hail the Magyar gypsy culture with poetry about dance and rhythms that evoke nighttime fireside dance.

This is a not-to-miss concert! Join us for this music and more at 3:00 pm, Sunday, May 5 (Cinco de Mayo!) at the Gordon Center in Owings Mills. This concert promises to be a toe-tapping experience! — Dr. Alyson Shirk YOU FOUND IT! Send an email to, with “I Found It” in the subject line, to be entered into a drawing for a restaurant gift certificate. Please put your name and phone number in the body of the email.

vol. vi, no. iii

in tune: the newsletter of the children’s chorus of maryland


A Day with Fernando Malvar-Ruiz F

rom time to time, CCM choirs have had the opportunity to work with outstanding musicians and conductors, including Marin Alsop, Bobby McFerrin, John Lithgow, and Stephen Hatfield. On Wednesday, February 20, CCM was honored to have the distinguished children’s choir conductor and teacher Fernando Malvar-Ruiz visit and conduct a workshop for the Lyric and Concert Choirs. Mr. MalvarRuiz is currently the Litton-Lodal Music Director of the American Boychoir.

in Dallas. As a last minute replacement for James Litton, the former ABS director, Malvar-Ruiz conducted the 300 voice Children’s Honor Choir. As he often says to such choirs, “The goal of our rehearsals is not to make music perfect, but to make music perfectly beautiful.” Already familiar with CCM’s reputation, Malvar-Ruiz had wanted to see our program in action. He and his wife, Melissa Malvar-Keylock, also a children’s choral conductor, visited CCM earlier in February. They were impressed by the choirs they heard and the classes they observed. “CCM is a unique children’s chorus,” said Malvar-Ruiz. “No other chorus that I know of has the kind of music education program that CCM has or places such importance on the development of music reading. The work you are doing here is outstanding.” Kudos to Ms. Alyson, Ms. Lauren, Ms. Suzannah, Ms. JoAnn, and Ms. Lyndsay!

Mr. Malvar-Ruiz leads the choir annually in over one hundred performances throughout the United States and tours with them internationally. He prepares the choir for regular performances with some of the finest orchestras in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, The Staatskapelle Berlin, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and has worked with such illustrious “I was completely engaged conductors as James and grinning the whole time; Levine, Pierre Boulez, as were the children. His Kurt Masur, Charles enthusiasm and energy is Dutoit, and others.

The name of the workshop was “Joyful Singing in the Choral Music Rehearsal.” It infectious. Everyone was on was attended by a few Widely sought after the edge of their chairs, leaning local music teachers and internationally as a in, eager for the next word out CCM parents along guest conductor, lecturer, with Melinda O’Neal, of his mouth.” clinician, and recognized Music Director of CCM Parent Maureen Martin the Handel Choir of expert in the adolescent male evolving voice, Mr. Baltimore, and the CCM Malvar-Ruiz has guest conducted throughout staff. Malvar-Ruiz’ colleague, Baltimore’s the world including the Kodály convention Edward Polochick, expressed regrets that he in Australia, the World Children’s Choir in couldn’t attend. “[Fernando] and the boys are Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Bermuda absolutely fabulous,” said Polochick. and the Des Moines International Children’s The children connected quickly with MalvarChoral Festival. For 11 years, he instructed Ruiz’s personable manner. Throughout the solfége in the summer master’s Program in rehearsal, he brought smiles to their faces Kodály at Capital University and since 2008 and eagerness to their singing. Emphasizing has served on the faculty of the Internacional posture and breath, he worked with the De Verano de Direccion Coral y Pedagogoia Lyric Choir on varying their singing tone. Musical in Las Palmas, Spain. Mr. MalvarAcknowledging the lovely tone that Alyson Ruiz also regularly conducts honor choirs has helped them develop, he asked them to and choral festivals throughout the United change it to match colors he gave them, from States for ACDA and OAKE regional and bright orange to dark green, even to nasal national conventions. and thin as they might use when singing The most recent convention choir he conducted was at the March ACDA (American Choral Director’s Association)

songs of people such as those who lived in the Amazon jungle. “It is important to be able to sing with a variety of color, because

each song is a world of its own and requires its own treatment,” he explained. The Concert Choir responded well to the several selections he rehearsed, but especially to Kodály’s “Ave Maria.” He asked the altos to think of their lines as being sung by monks. Some choristers even playfully put the hood of their hoodie over their head to get into character! The sopranos were asked to think of singing their parts as delicately and purely as if being sung by angels. The musical effect was magical. Lyric Chorister Sam Schuler comments, “I liked the way he asked us to think about different colors, then to sing the way we imagined a color made us feel.” And Rebecca Margolis, a member of the Concert Choir adds, “I really enjoyed it (the workshop) and I thought we picked up some valuable skills as a group. I also loved his sense of humor while working through exercises that were harder or more complicated.” Thanks to Alyson for allowing Mr. MalvarRuiz to interrupt her rehearsals for our spring concert. The children were already well prepared for the work he did with them. Our well-trained children were a delight to watch as Mr. Malvar-Ruiz put them through some challenging paces. We can be proud of how expertly our choristers respond to professionals who have become established and respected among the shining stars of choral music excellence. Thank you, Mr. Malvar-Ruiz, for bringing your joy in music making to our children. —Dr. Betty Bertaux

“It is impossible not to fall in love with an institution that has such a unique mission, such dedicated staff and, more importantly, such wonderful singers! The world needs more organizations like CCM in which high standards of music performance and music education are combined to provide children with a life-changing experience”. Fernando Malvar-Ruiz


in tune: the newsletter of the children’s chorus of maryland

vol. vi, no. iii

composer fun!


ABOVE: Lyric choristers hang out backstage at December’s “Winter Joy” concert.

Coming Attractions Ap ril World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Face of America Bicycle Ride kick-off concert Friday, April 26

Awards Ceremony & Graduation (Phase 1)

Saturday, April 27 (Please plan for a slightly extended morning. Parents are invited and encouraged to attend.)

May Grand Rehearsal # 1

Wednesday, May 1 Where: Gordon Center Time: TBA (approx. rehearsal times)

Grand Rehearsal # 2 Saturday, May 4 Where: St. Timothy’s Call Times TBA

Spring Concert & Graduation (Phase 2) Sunday, May 5 Where: Gordon Center Concert begins at 3:00 pm

July Hungary Tour July 19 – July 31

t was Saturday, March 2. For weeks I had been looking forward to working with the Lyric Choir on my composition, “Dance,” and this was the day! “Dance” would be performed for the second time ever on CCM’s spring concert, its Maryland premiere. The world premiere was in March, 2012, by the Fairfax Children’s Chorus, who had commissioned it.

I was delighted when Alyson Shirk agreed to give the Lyric Choir the honor of performing the Maryland premiere of “Dance.” It is a challenging piece for many younger or inexperienced choirs. Melismas, chromatics, key changes, octave leaps. But I was sure that under Alyson’s instruction the children would be prepared for the “Meet-the-Composer” day. And they were. And so was Alyson, but in a very different role. She was the accompanist! And what a fine job she did! With a strong piano background, she made the accompaniment soar, fly, turn, spin, and flame, much to the children’s delight! Typical of CCM’s rehearsal approach, the children had learned the piece in solfa without the benefit of the accompaniment. Then they made the transition to the text, and finally the accompaniment was added. Eyes sparkled and smiles gleamed. I asked, “Does the accompaniment help?” The answer was “Yes! Now the song makes sense! We understand it better. May we sing it again?”

Together, we moved the tempo forward. “This is faster than we’ve ever sung it,” some said. They weren’t sure if they’d get the notes right, but they did…even on the last page that they hadn’t learned yet. They read the music like pros! I was amazed, but not surprised.

Children’s questions: Who wrote the poem? It was 11-year-old Elizabeth Porter Eachus, who sings and studies ballet. Her poem won a Fairfax County Public School poetry contest. I hope the Lyric Choir will be able to meet her. How do you start a composition? I have to make some preliminary decisions: who will perform it, how many parts might it have, what instruments might accompany it, and how long might it be. What might be its tonality, tempo, and mood? Then, I take the text I’ve chosen and begin singing it to see where it goes. I give it a key, add some harmony, a piano part and keep working on it with different possibilities until I get it where it wants to go.

Do you ever have writer’s block? Yes! Often! When that happens, I just pretend that I have a “Problem Solving Committee” in my head. I say to it, “I can’t figure out what to do here. Please work on it and give me an answer.” Sometimes it takes several weeks for my “committee” to report, but I never worry about it. It always comes through. One time it did so in the middle of the night and woke me up! Will there be dancers? “I’m working on it,” said Alyson.

What great fun we had making “Dance” come to life. “Meet-the-Composer” days are always a joy for me and especially when with the fine choirs of CCM. Thank you, Alyson, for this opportunity. And thank you, Lyric Choir singers, for being so satisfying to work with. — Dr. Betty Bertaux

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vol. vi, no. iii

in tune: the newsletter of the children’s chorus of maryland


ccmers [in the spotlight]

CCM was well represented at the OAKE National Conference in Hartford, CT this year by Kristina Anastasiades, Audra Lane and Emma Shannon, who were selected to perform with the Youth Choir during the March conference. The Bishop family is busy with community theater as always. CCM alum Molly Bishop performed the role of Alice in Bye Bye Birdie at Mt. Hebron High School on March 16-23. Her brother Samuel Bishop is performing the role of JoJo in Patapsco Middle School’s production of Seussical the Musical, JR on April 26-27 at 7:30pm. CCM treble chorister Tyla Booker has been practicing violin under the direction of Yoon Mee Chong, Associate Director of Peabody Preparatory, and has recently begun studying with a professional musician at the Baltimore School for the Arts. On March 23 she performed at the BSA’s final concert for the year in Baltimore. Three CCMers, Ehren Dietrick, Addie Holden and Ellen Nikirk, recently appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Saint James Academy (see Ehren, second from left in photo above, and Addie, at right in photo below). Samantha Farmer, a 2010 CCM graduate who is now a sophomore majoring in Music Education at York College of Pennsylvania, writes to report the following: “I am required to take Music Theory 1-4, and Aural Skills 1-4. CCM gave me a great head start in music theory because of everything that was covered during our class time…I am still benefitting from CCM now in Aural Skills 3. I know many people who have had to retake the class because of the level

of difficulty or because they just didn’t get it. Even outside of Aural skills, my sight reading ability has helped me a great deal when reading a new piece of music, whether it is for chorale or solo voice lessons. All of my professors are impressed with my musicianship skills…which are a result of my seven years with CCM.” Thank you Sam, for staying in touch, and for sending such affirming news!

Lyric Chorister Mattias Hanchard, a 5th grader at Boys Latin, recently participated in his school’s Jump Rope Fundraiser for the American Heart Association. Thanks to the generosity of his family, friends, and neighbors he was able to raise $185. His school raised more than $6,000 this year, their highest total ever. Mattias and his classmates are proud and happy to have made a difference in the lives of children battling serious illness. CCM students Mattias Hanchard (Lyric Choir) and Katherine Shock (Concert Choir) will appear in Community College of Baltimore County’s presentation of Peter and the Wolf and Friends, featuring the Baltimore Symphonic Band and Children’s Playhouse of Maryland. Performances will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2 pm at CCBC Catonsville, Q Building Theatre, and on Saturday, April 27, 2 pm, at CCBC Essex, B Building Theatre. While the event is free, tickets are required. Call 443.840.ARTS. Congratulations to Edwin JP Harmon, who was invited back to his elementary school to perform with the school choir and to sing a solo part at the Dreams Do Exist Foundation 2nd Annual “Dreams Of Tomorrow” event on March 3, held at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts.

birth d a y s april 3 6 12 13 18 21 22 23 26 27 28 29

Talis Hill James Gosnell Olivia Merryman Zinna Moore Naomi Naka Addie Holden Kendall McCoach Kierstin Cummings Kristina Waymire Elizabeth Volpe Kirsten Hines Emmy Pratt Tyla Booker

may 2 7

Ehren Dietrick Alyssa Ince

11 12 14 16 17 18 21 25 27 30

Audrey Allan Julia Gaevsky Nora Mitchell Laura Gilchrist Sophia Platt Alison Ramirez Kristina Anastasiades Abigail Pepin Samuel Bishop Janet Gosnell Rhys Stancill-Whitin

june 1 8 10 11 14

Kallista Liu Adam Kurek Marlo Lacson Sabina Cooper Wyatt Stancill-Whitin

17 26 28 29

Sabina Kermes-Turner Edwin Harmon Grace Heffernan Timothy Pepin Sydney Siegmeister

july 1 2 8 11 12 14 17 20 21

Madeline Pepin Katie Lee Marie Naka Campbell DiCarlo Grayden Redwood Katrina Salmon Zoë Valentino Samuel Schuler Eve Plank Emma Shannon Crystal Cheng

22 24 26 27

Abby Levine Abigail Hines Pyotr Sergeevykh Lydia Eastman

august 1 3 6 9 13 14 16 21 27 23 31

Madison Knauer Austin Nikirk Christian Bechmann Laney Plimpton Molly Bugg Michael Martin Grace Vaeth Zoe Karp Emma Koren Olivia Mahaffey Mattias Hanchard


in tune: the newsletter of the children’s chorus of maryland

vol. vi, no. iii

Hungary Bound! Part 3

n the outskirts of the small city of Kecskemét lies a monument in stone, a depiction of Hungary and its re-drawn lines after its transition from communism to a free parliament democracy in 1989. When I saw it two years ago, I was reminded of my cab ride from the airport in Budapest to my hotel. The cabby showed me the division between Buda and Pest (the two sections of the city divided by the Danube River) and talked about his Hungarian parents, now residing in Romania because of the re-drawn borders. Living in the continental US, it is hard for us to think that our borders would change and that without moving, family members would suddenly become citizens of a different country.

That is the Hungarians’ experience. In fact, the people of Hungary, known as Magyars, have had a turbulent political history. For a time, it experienced the grandeur and power of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. But in the 20th century, socialism came to Hungary. After the Second World War, communism defined the government until 1989 when the party was disbanded.


Highlights from CCM’s winter 2012 concert

I could find no traces of a communistic government or a country recovering from political and economic turmoil. It made me think that the Hungarians are a resilient people! What I did find was a nation of music lovers. I got my hair done in a salon and the hairdresser talked about her Kodály music training in grade school. Workers came to evening and afternoon concerts dressed in their work clothes. Mothers brought babies and toddlers who amazingly sat still throughout the long concerts featuring music of Kodály, Bartok, and Liszt. Churches and concert halls were packed to the gills. People came out in droves to folk dance the night away and the town square was filled nightly with the sound of music. Despite a turbulent political history, love of making and listening to music defines this nation. Fundraising parents, Emily Hines (CCM’s tour coordinator), and I are all working hard to prepare for the trip to Budapest and Kecskemét. It promises to be an exciting and life changing trip. I am eager for folks to see the beautiful Parliament building, lit up along the bank of the Danube. I can’t wait for them to see the sunflower dotted countryside on the way to quaint Kecskemét. But mostly, I am excited to make music with and for people who share the Kodály pedagogy. There is so much to learn and experience this summer!

— Dr. Alyson Shirk

PHOTO of budapest: Daniel Pauls, wikimedia commons


vol. vi, no. iii

in tune: the newsletter of the children’s chorus of maryland


Auditions for Fall 2013! Encourage young musicians to sign up for an interview. Call the CCM office at (410) 494-1480 or visit the website: Thanks for helping spread the word about Children’s Chorus of Maryland! CCM NEWSLET TER CREDITS DesignER Kathrine Kuo Contributors Meryem Ahmadian, Betty Bertaux, Ramona Galey, Garrett Oie, Alyson Shirk PhotographERS Renée Bishop, Beth Dietrick, Wolfgang Justen, Allison Nikirk, Lisa Parsons, Amelia Schuler, Maureen Martin Editor Andrea Burgoyne


Do you know a child who loves to sing? Send them our way! Interviews for the next season are being scheduled NOW.



n January, 2013, an audience in Tulsa, Oklahoma, made up of Oklahoma music educators, heard the premier of Betty Bertaux’s new composition, “Tongue Twisters.” It was performed by the 135-voice Oklahoma Music Educators Association Children’s Honor Choir and conducted by Mairee Pantzer, CCM’s former artistic director. Each year, the OMEA commissions a new piece for their convention choirs. Mairee had recommended Betty as this year’s composer, and suggested tongue twisters as a text. Bertaux selected three tongue twisters, “Mules,” “Betty Botter’s Butter,” and “Tree Toad,” to use as a humorous five minute set. Children came from throughout Oklahoma well prepared for their first rehearsal. Mairee had selected a balanced and appealing repertoire for them. The young singers from grades 4 -8 were exceedingly responsive to Mairee’s conducting, and especially so to “Tongue Twisters.” The piece requires changes in vocal color for the unique styles of each song in the set. The singers accomplished that expertly. “Mules” is set as a tango. “Betty Botter’s Butter” suggests sections that alternate between a narrator and the strange voice of Betty Botter. “Tree Toad” requires a country twang. The effect brought giggles and delighted applause from the audience.

Kudos to the fine teachers and talented students of Oklahoma, and congratulations to our own Betty and Mairee!


in tune: the newsletter of the children’s chorus of maryland

vol. vi, no. iii

Concert Preview For centuries, Dance and Music have existed hand in hand: each form inspires the other. This spring, the Children’s Chorus of Maryland celebrates “Dance!” with songs based on dance forms and rhythms. From American Fiddle tunes to a Neapolitan Tarantella to the stately Pavane, join with the children and collaborative pianist Patricia McKewen Amato for a delightful afternoon of songs about dance! Sunday, May 5th, 3:00 pm, Gordon Center for the Arts, Owings Mills. For tickets visit, or call 410-494-1480.

The Citizens of Baltimore County 410-494-1480

100 east pennsylvania avenue suite 202 towson, md 21286

Children’s Chorus of Maryland is funded by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.




Winterjoy Highlights  

Spring 2013 Vol IV No. III

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