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Forte: Children’s choir joins orchestra for 
its holiday program

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The Yakima Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday program has become such an eagerly anticipated tradition that two performances are planned this year, at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

While there is much about these concerts that remains familiar from year to year — such as a traditional Christmas sing-along and the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah — Maestro Lawrence Golan has made a point each year to invite a different guest ensemble from our area to provide a special flavor for the program.

This year, that special guest is the Yakima Children’s Choir.

Founded in 1990, the Yakima Children’s Choir is a select group of around 50 fourth- and fifth-grade students representing every elementary school in the Yakima School District. Auditions for the choir begin with the general music teacher for each individual elementary school; these teachers then invite their top students to audition for the directors of the Children’s Choir.

The purpose of the choir is to provide the beginning foundations of choral singing to the best-prepared students, many of whom have great talent for singing but little or no experience reading music from a traditional choral score or creating a unified choral sound while singing multiple parts together.

This more advanced training supplements the work of the music educators in each school, who can then rely on these students to provide leadership in their own classrooms.

The Yakima Children’s Choir meets for rehearsal at Franklin Middle School every Tuesday from September to April. Members have performed for numerous special community events and Music Educators Conferences, including a performance with Bob McGrath (of Sesame Street fame) at the Northwest Division of the Music Educator Conference in 2007.

The group has sung on stage with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra and Chorus many times over the years, including performances of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana as well as an appearance with the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. This year, Anne Chapman and Nichola Hill have assumed leadership of the ensemble, following the retirement after 27 years of co-founders Jane Peterson and Darlene Fairbrook.

• David Rogers is executive director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Email him at or call 509-248-1414.

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