Originally Published: July 26, 2015 6 a.m.
It seems like there's always a new venue for the arts. In this case, Yavapai College is putting together a youth choir under the direction of Arlene Hardy and Amy Van Winkle. Meant for girls ages 12-18, the choir will provide a comprehensive choral education.
Hardy said that the idea for the youth choir have always been in the back of her mind, mentioning her love of working with children and how she used to be an assistant director for a choir in Fargo, N. D.
"Really enjoyed it, but as my life took hold, there was no time to put it into my world and so I was actually just looking for choral music for my women's choir that I direct and saw all of this repertoire for youth choirs," she said. "That's the beginning of it."
Hardy said that currently, the plan for the inaugural season is two choirs: a preparatory choir and the other a tour choir. She voiced her hopes to get between 20 and 25 girls in each of them, but said that whatever comes she'll be happy with and will build from there. Van Winkle said placement in one of the choirs will depend on how voices fit together and said that the preparatory choir is mainly kids that are in their first choral situation or are younger singers.
Van Winkle also spoke of having the choirs perform for public performances at a holiday performance around December and then again in the spring, along with the touring choir to go on tour in the spring. Hardy also said that there is a desire to take them to choral festivals to compete and be exposed to other youth choirs to see what they're doing and be inspired.
Currently, Hardy and Van Winkle are starting with girls ages 12 to 18, but Hardy spoke of aspirations for the future.
"Eventually, it would be wonderful if we could have a group grades nine to 12, and then maybe six to eight and then down to grades three to five would be wonderful," she said, also adding that she "wouldn't even be against having a boys choir in the mix of all of this."
Hardy said the venture is more of a comprehensive choral education, mentioning that it's another avenu7e to build choral skill and hopes that it will enhance choral programs throughout the area. Hardy said she would like to do a conjunction with other teachers, music instructors and choral directors to build the program.
Another one of Hardy's desires with the program is to develop lifelong appreciation of music in the choir's girls as well as expose them to challenging multicultural multipart choral music. She said a big part of it is building confidence and self-esteem while learning teamwork and teambuilding.
"They don't only just grow from rehearsing and performing, they're going to grow musically and emotionally and they're going to learn about hard work and what it takes to work together to accomplish a goal that we will put forward for them," Hardy said. "It's taking and combining a bunch of talented individuals to create one beautiful voice. Along with all of this, the big thing is that it's also about the process and they're going to have fun doing all of this.
But also Hardy said the choirs will not be limited by a socio-economic strata and doesn't want girls who desire to audition to be afraid of financial limitations. She said that funds for scholarships for girls based on need are in the works.
"My biggest fear is that there's going to be some amazingly talented individual out there that this is just what her niche is and she won't do it because of financial constraints," Hardy said. "I want them to still come forward and we will see what we can do to help them be a part of this opportunity and this experience."
Audition dates are Saturday, Aug. 1 and Friday-Saturday, Aug. 7-8 and auditions can be set up though Lorrie Vodicka at 928-776-2045. Hardy said that if those dates don't work, call to arrange an outside time slot. Rehearsals begin Monday, Aug. 24 and there is a parent meeting Monday, Aug. 17.
Follow Reporter Jason on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037 or at 928-642-5277.