In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Artistic Director Dr. Sylvia Munsen founded the Ames Children's Choirs (ACC) program in 1995. The program includes boys and girls ages 8-16 from central Iowa communities singing in three choirs: Concert Choir, Chorale and the Preparatory Choir. A fourth ensemble, the Chamber Singers, is a smaller ensemble from the Concert Choir. ACC focuses on the development of self-esteem through artistic experience and is utilized as part of teacher training for choral music education students at Iowa State University (ISU).
Notable performances for the Concert Choir include: the World Premiere of John Rutter's Mass of the Children at Carnegie Hall with the composer as conductor; solo concerts at Washington's National Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC, and Temple Square in Salt Lake City, a performance with the Des Moines Symphony for the World Food Prize Laureate Program and a concert for the Meredith Willson Centennial in Mason City. The choir has performed in ISU residencies with composers John Corigliano and Libby Larsen and in a master class with Cantus. ACC singers have performed four times with Simon Estes in MCCF and ISU Celebrate America concerts.
The Concert Choir has been selected to perform concerts for numerous conferences, including: North Central American Choral Directors Association (NCACDA) in 2008 and 2002, Midwest Kodaly Music Educators of America (2007), the Organization of American Kodaly Educators Association (2007), American Orff-Schulwerk Association (2006), and the 60th Michigan Music Educators Association Conference (2005). The choir has served as the demonstration choir with Dr. Munsen as clinician for numerous conference interest sessions including MKMEA, AOSA, and NCACDA. In addition, the choir has performed several times for Iowa associations: Iowa Choral Directors Association (ICDA) and Iowa Music Educators Association. The Concert Choir will be a featured choir (performance and interest session) for the ICDA Summer Symposium in July 2009.
Annual concert tours have been conducted throughout the Midwest to the following locations: Ann Arbor, Champaign-Urbana, Chicago, DeKalb and Galesburg IL, Fargo-Moorhead, Kansas City, Lawrence KS, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha and many cities throughout the state of Iowa. Special tours have been conducted to Colorado & Utah, New York City, Washington DC and the Pacific NW. During tours the choir has been featured in many festivals including: the Northern Plains Kodaly Festival in Fargo, Joy of Singing Festival at the University of Kansas with Simon Carrington, and Sing a Mile High Children's Choral Festival in Denver with David Brunner. In June 1998, the choir was the only American ensemble to perform in the Mezinarodni Folklorni Festival in Frędek-Mistek, the Czech Republic. In 2001, the choir performed in "The World of Children's Choirs" festival in Vancouver BC, Canada, and was selected to perform at one of the concerts recorded by the CBC.
The ACC program sponsors the Midwest Children's Choir Festival (MCCF), which was created to provide the opportunity for select young singers in Iowa to hear and perform with nationally and internationally recognized choirs and performers. Early festivals featured choirs from Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the U.S. Currently, the festival features two Midwest children's choirs and includes select singers from Iowa, who form a 400-voice mass choir. Simon Estes has performed with the MCCF Mass Choir three times. The 2007 MCCF featured Bob Chilcott as composer and guest conductor, who Bob Chilcott conducted his new work "All things pass" commissioned by ACC and written for the festival. The 2009 MCCF will feature Rene Clausen as composer and guest conductor. The Concert Choir is the host of MCCF.
ACC created the Celebrate Singing Choral Festival (CSCF) in 2008. This new festival provides the opportunity for school and community choirs to hear and perform with each other. The Chorale who conducts annual tours to schools in central Iowa and has participated in children's choir festivals in Des Moines and Carroll, Iowa, is the host of CSCF.
All choirs in the ACC program have collaborated with many arts organizations in central Iowa including: Ames Chamber Artists, Ames Children's Theater, Central Iowa Symphony and the ISU Opera Theater.
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Review: The Concert Choir is one of three choirs in the Ames Children's Choirs (ACC) program founded by Artistic Director Munsen in Ames, Iowa in 1995. The Concert Choir has performed at John Rutter's Mass of the Children at Carnegie Hall, with the Des Moines Symphony for the World Food Prize, performed solo concerts in St. Patrick's Cathedral (NYC) and Washington's National Cathedral and performed at many conferences and festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada. Favorites among the 14 tunes (all accompanied on piano by Sue Lekwa) are: Bob Chilcott's title tune and "Can You Hear Me?," John Rutter's "For the Beauty of the Earth," E. Amiran's "Mayim," the Spiritual "Hand Me Down My Silver Trumpet," Stephen Paulus' "Winter Song," Libby Larsen's "Ring the Bells," Bach's "Wir eilen doch emsigen Schritten," James Mulholland's "Come Let's Be Merry" and the Serbian Gypsy Dance "Niska Banja." The lovely voices of the children perfectly complement these beautiful, well-chosen songs!
Review: Dr. Munsen had founded and directed children's and women's choirs in Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, and Washington before creating the Ames Children's Choirs (ACC) in 1995, which now includes over 110 boys and girls ages 8-16 singing in 4 choirs. Beginning with regional concerts and performances at Iowa State U. festivals, ACC has established an international connection by sponsoring the Midwest Children's Choir Fesival and conducting tours to the Czech Republic and Canada. "Dream," their debut CD, has 20 tunes, all recorded in concert; numbers 1-7, including "The Star Spangled Banner," Bach's beautiful "Bist du bei mir," and Dvorak's "Flow, Danube, Ebb and Flow," were recorded at the ACDA Conference in Des Moines; numbers 8-20, including Handel's "Art Thou Troubled," the Hebrew folk song "Dodi li," Z. Randall Stroope's "Lux Aeterna," the a cappella Japanese folk tune "Hotaru Koi," the Appalachian folk song "Simple Gifts," Aaron Copland's "At The River," Libby Larson's "Ring the Bells," Mozart's "The Alphabet" and the title tune by Ed Robertson, were recorded at concerts at local churches. There is light accompaniment on most songs. But it's the lovely, spirited sound of the children's voices are what makes "Dream" a very special and enjoyable collection.