Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thanks, Pixar

I have to hand it to Pixar. I was reminded of how good they are at making movies tonight after seeing Toy Story 3. Since 1995 when Toy Story came into our theaters and introdced us to just how real animation can look, the story has followed Andy and the adventures with his memorable cast of toys.

Free family tickets are a perk of having two sons who work at a movie theater, and it was with them I settled in tonight for Toy Story 3. They are taller than me now, but back when Toy Story first premiered, they were 3 and 4. Just like Andy, they will be starting college in the fall. I hadn't expected this film to move us, but it did. By the end of the movie they were talking about their own Woody and Buzz toys, and regaling me with memories of adventures that - until tonight - I hadn't known made such an impact. I was surprised to hear how memorable it was for them to visit the ocean, nurse a turtle back to health and set off fire crackers in their fort built out of snow.

Some things, like the Indianapolis Children's Choir, we know make an impression on our children. The ICC impacts lives every day by offering a top-notch choral education, lessons in teamwork and a chance to see the world. Each young singer also gets something unique out of this program, and like the stories that came bubbling up out of my own boys tonight, we may not know what that is for years. But we work hard every day to make sure the impact is a good one.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day Five - Choral Festival!

This morning, a parent who has two children in the Bel Canto choir, (Mr. Pedde's choir) asked me, "Which is the best children's choir in the world?"

I must have looked at her with a quizzical expression, because she continued, "Well, the directors are always saying that the Indianapolis Children's Choir is one of the best children's choirs. I think we ARE the best!"

She had just come from the combined rehearsal for tomorrow's concert. Hearing both the morning and afternoon groups sing together moved anyone who was listening. It was an amazing sound.

During this week, a concurrent program has been going on called Creating Artistry. This is a week-long intensive workshop for conductors, led by the ICC Founder and Artistic Director Henry Leck. We have conductors from around the world studying under Mr. Leck, and our own ICC directors are required to complete this same training as well. Rest assured - your children are learning from the best of the best!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day Four - Choral Festival!

The bar has been set pretty high for the Choral Festival campers this week, but they are proving they are up to the task! They are doing so well learning their assigned music for Saturday's concert, that they even had time to learn a new folk song today. It is exciting and inspiring to be around children when they are so excited themselves about learning!

By the end of both the morning and afternoon rehearsals, the groups had demonstrated that they almost knew every piece of music by memory! Next time you watch a choir perform, take notice if they are using the printed music - many adult choirs do. It is really a tribute to the talent of the directors of the Indianapolis Children's Choir, and the campers themselves, that the music has been memorized so fast.

You're in for a treat on Saturday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day Three - Choral Festival!

Today the campers arrived in their sunny yellow shirts, and they really are becoming a group that is working as one. Many of the singers took Mr. Pedde's request to heart and have memorized a few of the songs. They understand the warm-up process, are singing with exuberance and more and more are auditioning every day.

One of the highlights of the day was getting to meet the ICC Founder and Artistic Director, Henry Leck. The kids were able to ask him a myriad of questions about the choir.

Also today, the campers were able to see an established Indianapolis Children's Choir group perform. When asked by Mrs. Dwyer to raise their hands if they had themselves been through Choral Festival, nearly every hand was raised!

ICC really is a journey - from Choral Festival participant to becoming a member of one of the best children's choirs in the world!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day Two - Choral Festival!

The morning and afternoon sessions on day two went amazingly well! "The singers arrived ready to sing with energy and beauty. They did an incredible job remembering much of what was taught on Monday," said Ruth Dwyer, ICC Director of Education. "They did an especially good job working on the Bel Canto vocal technique introduced to them at the first rehearsal."

Ruth, and all the ICC directors, have something in common that I noticed today as I was going from room to room. They all teach with encouragement. Some of the wonderfully reassuring things I heard today were: "You are wonderful musicians!", "You are all so smart I know you can memorize this music!", "You have the best singing posture!"

I recently interviewed some ICC alumni for a documentary, and when asked to describe the Indianapolis Children's Choir in one word, one particular alumni did indeed chose "encouraging." Having a passion for an activity is one thing; but having someone encourage you along the way gives that passion staying power.

Thank you for letting us encourage your children!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day One - Choral Festival!

It is an amazing thing, watching children. They came to the Indianapolis Children's Choir this morning, arriving for the first day of our 25th annual Choral Festival Summer Camp. Some had a look of trepidation, some looked like they just woke up, some were excited and others looked like they didn't quite know what to expect.

As they streamed up the steps of Lilly Hall, into the registration room then to the choir room, they took their assigned seats. They are like little diamonds in the rough - in a few short days it is hard to believe they will be participating in a public concert on the magnificent Clowes stage.

To get there, our directors work their magic. The kids were all given music folders today, and what I heard coming out of the choir rooms just this morning was already amazing. These campers don't know yet the journey they are on, and the thrill they will feel when they all come together to make an audience get up off its feet.

Welcome campers, and parents to the Indianapolis Children's Choir! Thanks for coming along for the 25th anniversary ride!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

To Influence a Life

Days ago, legendary basketball coach and native Hoosier John Wooden passed away. Indianapolis Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz wrote a stirring tribute to Wooden. Kravitz chronicled Wooden's 99 years, and summed it up by saying, "A well-lived life is a life that touches and helps others. Wooden left enormous footprints on so many lives."

When I read those words, it was a bit of deja vu. Earlier in the week, I was coordinating two long days of interviews with ICC alumni, in preparation for a video documentary. Without exception, each alumni spoke to the incredible impact the choir had on them. Whether they were in one year or 10, each reflected upon the life-changing significance the Indianapolis Children's Choir had made. If a script had been written, it couldn't have been more poignant.

It would be futile to compare John Wooden with Henry Leck, or Ruth Dwyer or the ICC organization for that matter. They are all great in their own way. But, John Wooden's passing has reminded me that it is a wonderful thing to do a job so well that years later people credit their experience with you as a turning point in their lives.

You are an inspiration Coach Wooden. May you rest in peace.