The Greater Richmond Children’s Choir is multicultural in its diverse membership, its repertoire, and its audience outreach locally and abroad. GRCC choristers have sung in over forty different languages representing more than fifty different ethnic and religious groups worldwide. In June 2012, thirty-four members of GRCC's touring choirs, Pro Arte and Cavalieri, traveled to England and to Ghana following the historic slave trade triangle and sang repertoire which included Ghanaian songs in native languages that were received with overwhelming joy. Travel is an integral part of GRCC's mssion and in 2010, thirty six members of GRCC's Pro Arte and Cavalieri Choirs toured Tennessee and Arkansas where they performed at the Grand Old Opry, Graceland, and The Phillips County Boys & Girls Club and more. During the 2009-10 Season GRCC also collaborated in Richmond with the internationally acclaimed Ugandan native instrument ensemble, Kinobe & Soul Beat Africa. And in 2008, fifty GRCC choristers were warmly received by their Chinese hosts as the choir toured Beijing and Shanghai, presenting programs of Chinese and American music for and with groups of Chinese students. Prior tours have included festivals in Italy, Canada, and Carnegie Hall in New York City where the choirs have received highest accolades. A 2014 tour is in the early planning stages.
The GRCC offers a significant number of scholarships (30% + of members) to economically disadvantaged students who cannot afford the tuition fees and travel expenses associated with performances. Tuition is $475 /year including summer camp and concert clothes cost $68. Scholarships are targeted toward under-served students from high-crime neighborhoods. We are increasingly seeing children from very difficult home situations, including several being raised by grandparents because the parents are not capable. People who know these children and who see the difference the choir has made to them, then recommend more such children to us.
The Greater Richmond Children's Choir has received many accolades, from prizes, to outstanding reviews, to music scholarships for graduates, to invitations to perform all over the world. The Pro Arte Choir of GRCC is recognized as one of the best choirs in the USA having been selected to perform at the 2005 National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Los Angeles. The Pro Arte Choir received awards for Best Choir and Best Conductor in the 13th Concorso Internazionale di Canto Corale in Verona, Italy. GRCC has sung at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and performed as the featured choir in the Field Studies International Festival 2000 at Carnegie Hall, NYC, and has performed countless times to critical acclaim with the Richmond Symphony. The choir brings to the Richmond area an extraordinarily high quality of music which is recognized locally and abroad. Long time RTD music critic Clarke Bustard in his 2007 review of GRCC's CD A Light to the World described GRCC as "one of our town's most acclaimed musical exports, having dazzled audiences from New York's Carnegie Hall to the Concorso Internazionale di Canto Corale in Verona, Italy."
GRCC has had a very significant impact on many of our families, one of which consists of a single mom and four children, two of whom have sung with us, and we expect another to join us in the fall. It has been a learning process, but the entire family has become ever more reliable and consistent as we have reinforced the idea of commitment over and over with them through the years. Transportation has been a problem for them at times, but in a bold move a couple of years ago, their mother moved them to the Randolph area from the East End, in large part to be closer to GRCC.
This family in turn recommended a little boy to us whose mother is in prison and whose father died due to drug related causes. In fact, he is just one of several members who have witnessed terrible things in their short lives. The boy, who is being raised by his grandmother, has had some attention and other problems in school, but he loves singing, loves being a part of the group in our choir, and he has delighted our audiences with his enthusiasm.
We are enriched by the diverse population among our students and parents. When “Betelehemu”, a Nigerian Christmas carol, was chosen as one of our songs for a Richmond Symphony “Let It Snow” concert, we called on a mother of three of our choristers to help us with the pronunciation of the Nigerian language, Yoruba. She demonstrated (using me as the guinea pig, much to the amusement of the choirs) that Yoruba, like Chinese, is a tonal language and can mean something very different with the wrong inflection! The mother reports that her father, who still lives in Nigeria, is very pleased that his granddaughters are learning a song in Yoruba. We have had similar opportunities with other parents who’ve helped us with Russian and other languages and the experience has enriched us all.
Over the years, we’ve been able to successfully combine the highest quality choral training with our goal of bringing together students from all backgrounds. These children stand shoulder to shoulder, without regard to their backgrounds, joined by their love for good music.
Please visit our website, www.grcchoir.org.Thank you.
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