North Country Youth Chorus
The North Country Chorus has always had a mission of promoting lifelong choral singers amongst our young people. For many years we had a group of children sing and dance during Madrigal Dinner performances. We have been pleased to have opportunities to include the Caledonia Children's Chorus and a St. Johnsbury School 5-6 grade group when our music contained parts for young voices. On occasion, the St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltones are invited to perform with NCC. Alan Rowe also directs that group. In the fall of 2017 we launched our own North Country Youth Chorus (NCYC), hiring a local music teacher to direct. They performed in NCC spring concerts, singing their own pieces and singing with the full Chorus, as well as at the Athenaeum Victorian Holiday Celebrations.
Our goal is to teach vocal skills and offer opportunities for listening and performing that deepen each child's musical understanding and appreciation. The NCYC also serves to encourage personal growth as an individual and as a member of an ensemble.
Since the fall of 2019 the youth chorus has been led by a wonderful director, new to the area. Lewis Botelho-Gomes comes from Brazil, via St Louis, MO, where he finished a second master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting. A music educator trained at The University of Michigan, Mr. B.G., for short, has worked with children’s choirs extensively having studied with Prof. Henry Leck from Indianapolis Children’s Choir, and is a certified Kodaly Specialist. Lewis brings a broad array of skills to meet any combination of kids at hand. The rehearsals with Mr. B.G. are full of movement and games. All voice training is anchored in large body motions, and devoted to both performance and literacy. Lewis is also the director of the EPIC Music program at Catamount Arts.
North Country Chorus is the financial sponsor of NCYC, and is pleased to partner with Catamount Arts in order to support this group to become more regional. In the fall/winter, rehearsals were held at Catamount Arts, which made the program available to more students. During that time we averaged 30 students weekly in grades 3-8, from 12 towns. Again, the group performed at the Athenaeum Holiday and at First Night North with the NEK All Stars. Rehearsals were suspended in March due to the pandemic.
In the summer, a small group of the children participated in an online project offered by Lewis. In-person rehearsals resumed in September – outside, masked, and socially distanced. Mr. B.G.'s focus was devoted to beat and no beat, steady and unsteady beat, beats grouped in 2 and 3, shorthand writing of rhythmic patterns, simple rhythm two-part invention, rhythm canons and notating melodic contours.
When the cold weather came in November the group moved to the Union Baptist Church, where there are high ceilings for good air exchange and space large enough for social distancing still masked. Now the focus is on double and triple meter, conducting patterns, discriminating, associating and generalizing syncopated rhythms and musical phrases, discriminating alike and different pitch sequences. These concepts/skills become games and activities under Mr. B.G.’s energetic leadership. Lots of skipping, clapping, humming and laughter while learning! See the attached clip from the Athenaeum’s December 2019 Victorian Holiday for the results.
Foreseen for our winter term is all of the above plus forms AB, ABA, ABACA (rondo), discriminating, associating and generalizing patterns containing sixteenth notes, styles and texture.
For questions about the group, or to inquire about joining it, or observing a rehearsal, please contact Mr. BG here .
NCC Music Award for graduating high school student
North Country Chorus annually awards $500. to a North Country student who will go on to study music at a college level. Each spring we contact local music teachers to solicit applications, beginning March 15. The application deadline will be April 15th.