Miami-Dade County

Miami Children’s Chorus celebrates 50 years

Alejandra Vivanco, 13, an eighth grader at Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School, performs with Avanzato, Miami Children’s Chorus advanced singing group, to celebrate the programs 50th year anniversary on Oct. 25 at the Miami Beach Community Church located on 1620 Drexel Ave.
Alejandra Vivanco, 13, an eighth grader at Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School, performs with Avanzato, Miami Children’s Chorus advanced singing group, to celebrate the programs 50th year anniversary on Oct. 25 at the Miami Beach Community Church located on 1620 Drexel Ave. Miami Herald Staff

It took years of concentration and practice for opera singer Carolina Castells to refine her voice.

The Miami Children’s Chorus, a nonprofit community arts organization, offered her a place where she could do that.

“I was a very shy kid and singing was my only outlet,” Castells said. “With MCC, I had truly found a place where I can be myself — the quintessential choir geek I honestly am.”

Fifteen years later, Castells performed with the choir once again in a celebratory concert kicking off MCC’s 50th year anniversary on Oct. 25 at the Miami Beach Community Church on Lincoln Road.

Children and alumni rehearsed three days prior to put together a performance to honor half a century of music education.

“It was rather emotional for me because I loved this chorus so much growing up,” said Castells, 32. “They really made me into the musician I am today.”

Family, friends and music lovers watched the performance, during which the choir sang everything from gospels and spirituals to popular music.

For the finale, former alumni joined Avanzato, MCC’s advanced singing group, in a song that paid tribute to choral music.

“I was about to tear up during the last bit,” said Kyle Bielfield, another alum who recently came back from a seven-week singing tour in Australia. “It’s so wonderful to see an institution like this enter a new era.”

For 50 years, Miami Children’s Chorus has performed works by composers around the world in Spanish, Haitian-Creole, English, Hebrew and Latin.

What started in 1965 as a choral society for adults has transformed into Miami Children’s Chorus, a community organization that specializes in choral education for children from 8 to 18 years old.

Music director Timothy Sharp, 54, who has been teaching choristers for 28 years, is the mastermind behind the revitalization that Miami Children's Chorus has undergone.

Sharp is MCC’s longest contributor. He has been teaching music since 1983 after receiving a master’s degree in music education from the University of Illinois.

He helped develop MCC’s outreach project, Choir for All, in which it works with social agencies to offer free singing lessons to under-served areas like Homestead, Miami Beach and Miami.

“It didn’t dawn on me until recently that I’ve been here for more than half the time it’s been operating,” Sharp said. “It’s pretty fascinating.”

Daniel Wynne, 16, is a student from Homestead, who now sings in the advanced Avanzato group.

“MCC has helped me learn things I never knew. It’s not just singing. I learned how to read when I was younger here,” said Daniel, who wants to be a physicist. “In high school, you’re basically someone who’s personalizing yourself for the future, but on stage, I forget all that and enjoy myself with other people.”

During the early years of Sharp’s career, the chorus had only 55 students. Today, it has more than 165 choristers who attend rehearsals twice a week at the Rivera Presbyterian Church on Sunset Drive.

“Not everyone goes into music,” Sharp said. “I’ve had students who are now lawyers and what they remember learning here is commitment, discipline and how to meet challenges.”

Sharp continues to teach even though he’s a retired music instructor from Vineland Elementary School.

“It’s good for me because I never stop learning,” Sharp said. “When I reach the point where I’m not learning anymore, then I’ll stop.”

Upcoming Events

Rise of the Titans Concert

▪ What: Miami Children’s Chorus beginner and intermediate groups will perform with the Miami Music Project as part of Family Fest.

▪ When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

▪ Where: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

▪ For more information: 305-662-7494.

Voices of Angels MCC’s Annual Holiday Concert

▪ What: All of Miami Children’s Chorus groups will perform traditional and contemporary holiday fare.

▪ When: 4 p.m. Dec. 14.

▪ Where: First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way.

▪ Cost: $25 for adults, $10 for children 5 to 18.

▪ For more information: 305-662-7494.

All Together Now

▪ What: A sing-along created in part by Miami Children’s Chorus community service outreach project; its intermediate choral group will sing while the audience is encouraged to join.

▪ When: 11:30 a.m. Jan. 24.

▪ Where: Homestead Community Center, 1601 North Krome Ave.

▪ Cost: Free.

▪ For more information: 305-662-7494.

Bring on the Boys

▪ What: A workshop for all Miami Children’s Chorus boys; Front Men’s Chorus group will discuss “unchanging voices.”

▪ When: 9 a.m. Jan. 31.

▪ Where: Frost School of Music at the University of Miami at the Victor E. Clarke Recital Hall.

▪ Cost: A registration fee is required for participation.

▪ For more information: 305-662-7494.

Carmina Burana

▪ What: Miami Children’s Chorus’ advanced group will sing Carmina Burana, a classic Latin repertoire composed by Carl Orff with the Cleveland Orchestra.

▪ When: 8 p.m. March 26-28.

▪ Where: Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.

▪ For more information: 305-662-7494.

Let the Children Sing

▪ What: Miami Children’s Chorus’ annual spring concert will feature all of ensembles of MCC.

▪ When: 4 p.m. May 17.

▪ Where: First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way.

▪ Cost: $20 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. Available through Golden Ticket Program.

▪ For more information: 305-662-7494.

Cantare! A Voice with a Future Take 3 — Contemporary Works for Youth Ensembles

▪ What: A Miami Children’s Chorus concert featuring beginner, intermediate and advanced groups. The concert will perform new music by Jim Papoulis, a composer for MCC, commissioned by Classical Movements Inc.

▪ When: 7 p.m. May 30.

▪ Where: New World Center, Miami Beach.

▪ Cost: $25 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens. Available through Golden Ticket Program.

▪ For more information: 305-662-7494.

From the cover

caption here for the cover picture on page one goes a cutline in this space in here for this cover story page 1 in here has a caption in here

  Comments