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Giving the Gift of Music to Children

St. George Children's Choir co-founders share their vision for inspiring young voices

Drawing from Minnesota’s rich choral tradition, the St. George Children’s Choir has brought the gift of classical children’s choral music to the community’s repertoire of cultural offerings, enriching and inspiring listeners with the finest of music and poetry.

Formed in 2018, the Children’s Choir is headed by Director and Co-Founder, Mary Wilde, a Minnesota native who joined the St. George Chamber Singers when she moved to southern Utah in 2016. She loved her new home, but missed the magic of the children’s choirs that were so abundant in her native state. She approached Conductor and Co-Founder Rachel Cox, a fellow member of the Chamber Singers, with the idea of starting a children’s choir as an adjunct to the already masterful community choir.

“It was something I had been wanting for so long,” Rachel says, “To give the gift of music to children in the inspiring way it was given to me, and here it was, this wonderful opportunity!”

Classical children’s choir is often religious or spiritual in nature and written by composers such as Mozart or Schubert, but can also include folk music and songs from other traditions.

“We uphold teaching vocal technique, classical repertoire and are selective about what we choose for the kids to sing in terms of the meaning, the music,” Mary says. With Rachel adding, “We really do look for good meaning in the music, good poetry, so that what the children are singing is not only healthy for their voices but really good for the soul.

As an example, Mary quotes a stanza from the poem, “The Gift to Sing,” by James Weldon Johnson:   

“Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
I softly sing.”

Mary pauses for a moment, then says, “It’s just so beautiful that they can have the realization that music can be a magical way to transform their experience.”

Beyond the lyrics, the collective experience of singing in a choir also inspires power.

“There’s more power in the group than in just the individual. As we join, there is synergy that happens, and the children can feel this as they unite in singing in a choir setting,” Rachel explains. It is a unique and powerful experience. Almost every time we rehearse, I get the very distinct feeling that this is very important work, that this needs to happen.”

The co-founders also convey that they created the choir as a gift to the community. The group performed for the last several years at Sterling Court Assisted Living Center and at fundraisers for Switchpoint Community Resource Center. Their intent is to additionally instill in the young singers the recognition that they can use their gifts to bless others.

Unique to the St. George Children’s Choir, the founding duo also commissioned a choral work based on a poem by Kim Stafford and composed by Grace Brigham—a piece that carries a message of belonging and hope, which the children have recorded through a music video.

Expanding beyond local venues, which include churches, schools and the St. George Tabernacle, the St. George Children’s Choir recently took its performances on the road with its first tour to northern Utah. The choir has also been honored to perform with violinist, Jenny Oaks Baker, and musical group, GENTRI.

The St. George Children’s Choir runs concurrent with the school year with weekly rehearsals. Auditions this year are Wednesday, August 23, from 4:30–5:30 p.m. at Washington Fields Intermediate School. Registration for auditions and other details may be found at www.stgeorgechambersingers.org.

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