In January of 1997, the Lenoir-Rhyne Youth Chorus (LRYC) held its first rehearsal with over 100 children. In the summer of 2007, 30 members of the advanced chorus group were privileged to attend the International Children's Choir Festival at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England, under the directorship of Henry Leck, from Indianapolis, Indiana, and David Flood, Master of the Choristers and Organist of Canterbury Cathedral. Of the six participating choirs, the Lenoir-Rhyne Youth Chorus was chosen as the choir to lead
Evensong at the Cathedral, a service which has been sung daily there for over eight hundred years. The chorus became part of history as their name was inscribed in the cathedral records of who participated in the services. They also had the opportunity to sing the Evensong Service at Windsor Castle and to give a solo concert in Canterbury.
In more recent years, the choir has participated in a festival at Carnegie Hall, New York City, the Sing a Mile High Festival in Denver, CO, and in summer of 2014 will be traveling to Austria and Germany to perform five concerts in eight days!
The chorus regularly performs for churches, civic organizations, and in concerts with the Lenoir-Rhyne A Cappella Choir. It has also performed twice with the Western Piedmont Symphony, including “The Planets” by Gustav Holst in 2012.
The choir accepts children from ages eight to eighteen by audition into either the beginning (Minnesinger) or advanced (Meistersinger) choruses. Both groups rehearse on Tuesdays, Minnesingers from 5:15 – 6:30 and Meistersingers from 7:00 – 8:30 during the school year. Both boys with unchanged voices and girls are welcome to audition. Auditions can be scheduled at anytime by calling Florence Jowers at 828.328.7195.
Two of its former members were accepted into the prestigious American Boychoir School. Several others have gone on to become leaders in their high school choral and instrumental ensembles, and eventually to major in music in college, some of whom come to Lenoir-Rhyne as music majors or to sing in the A Cappella Choir at the university.
Today, at least two of our graduates are working on their doctorates in music, several have master’s degrees, and more are teaching music in the school systems around the state. Others have not majored in music but testify to the power that music has in their lives, and they are continuing to sing in college, church, and community choirs as they pursue professional interests in other fields.
In addition to the musical skills learned, choral singing develops maturity, character, discipline, group dynamics, dependability, creativity, decision-making, confidence and self-esteem. The young singers will reap life-long rewards from their experiences in LRYC.
There is a modest tuition fee which covers music, other supplies, and administrative costs. In addition, each singer will be required to purchase a uniform. Parents are urged to take an active role in this ensemble by serving on committees, helping with rehearsals, and encouraging your young singer to be regular and prompt in attendance. Scholarship help is available if need is demonstrated.
Florence M. Jowers, Professor Emerita of Music at Lenoir-Rhyne University and founding conductor (retired) of the Lenoir-Rhyne Youth Chorus, holds degrees from Yale University, New Haven, CT, and Stetson University, DeLand, Florida. She was the founder and director of the Shenango Area Youth Chorus, a professional children's chorus in Northwestern Pennsylvania. She has worked with such children's voice experts as Henry Leck, Jean Ashworth Bartle, and James Litton.
LRYC Director Eric Johnson holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. from Appalachian State University and a Master of Music in Music Education and Choral Conducting from Florida State University. He has been choral director at Holmes Middle School since January of 2007. At Holmes he directs a program of 300 students in five choirs and serves as a technology specialist and cultural arts lead teacher. With degrees from Appalachian State in Music Education, and Sacred Music Performance, he is very active in the musical world. More»
"There is not any musicke of instruments, whatsoever, comparable to that which is made by the human voyce, when the voyces are good, and the same well-sorted and ordered."
~William Byrd (1542-1623)
"The voice and musical feeling of children is so excellent that they can perform artistically anything that fits their physical and emotional development, however difficult the task."
~ Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967)
"It has been proven time and again that the more one expects of a group, the more one is likely to get. Goals must be very high!"
~ Paul Bouman (b. 1918)