Kids to worship in song, spirit at festival
Published: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 11:36 p.m.
Children's voices are coming together this weekend to create an experience that combines music and spirituality.
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More than 150 children from five youth choirs, ranging in ages from eight to 17, are joining to perform at the 17th annual Children's Choral Festival at Holy Faith Catholic Church, 700 NW 39th Road.
"You have to be there to see the kids," said Deborah DesForges, founder and artistic director of the Gainesville Youth Chorus and interim director of the First Presbyterian Youth Choir. "It's awe inspiring to hear their music and see their personal growth."
Youth choirs from Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church in Williston, St. Augustine Catholic Church, and the Gainesville Youth Chorus, a community-based choir, separately practiced the five selections to be performed Sunday.
Under the direction of conductor Dr. Brenda Smith, a University of Florida professor and an internationally renowned clinician who specializes in vocal health and singing technique, the choirs will join their voices to build a great musical sound, said DesForges.
Smith, who said she is honored to work with children of various ages and talents, is looking forward to the opportunity to deepen her understanding of the role that singing plays in different lives.
"Singing is something that enhances the lives of all those involved, the singers and the audience," said Smith. "Singing warms the heart, tunes the ears and elevates the spirit of everyone involved."
By teaching the children the basic tools of singing, Smith said she hopes her work with the children will lay a firm foundation for each of the singers and help them promote healthy vocal habits for life.
The Children's Choral Festival changes venues every year, so the children are able to experience different worship environments, DesForges said.
The festival includes a multi-denominational worship service that focuses on scriptures relating to the music the children sing. It is followed by a reception for all festival attendees.
"It's an opportunity for the community to hear fine childrens' choirs come together for a common purpose - worship and song," DesForges said.
She said the children benefit from the experience because they have more self-confidence after learning how to lead a congregation through music and express their spirituality through song.
Cheryl Poe, the festival coordinator and children's choral director at St. Augustine Catholic Church, said they are expecting 500 to 600 attendees this year.
A compact disk of the festival will be on sale Sunday on a prepaid basis for $15, said DesForges.
Smith said she's holding a special demonstration workshop today from 1 to 3 p.m. using the Gainesville Youth Chorus as the demonstration group.
The public is welcome to attend the training session, and the festival is free to the public, DesForges said.
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