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The Syracuse Children's Chorus

Our History

Celebrating 25 years of joyful singing, the Syracuse Children's Chorus teaches artistry and excellence through the study and performance of outstanding choral music. The Chorus provides young people with a vision of beauty, a means for creative self-expression and the rewards of participation in the choral art. Committed to musical excellence, the Chorus gives talented young singers the opportunity to learn, analyze and perform music of varied styles and cultures and to collaborate with professional musicians.

The Syracuse Children's Chorus was founded by Barbara M. Tagg in 1981, beginning with one choir, an operating budget of $5,000, and a student accompanist. Fifty children were recommended by their school music teachers and auditioned for participation, and a scholarship fund was established. In 1983 the program expanded to two choirs and local recognition of the Chorus came with the Chorus's first appearance with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Christopher Keene. This was the first of many collaborations with the Orchestra, Syracuse Opera, and other local arts organizations, which has continued on a regular basis throughout the Chorus's history. In 1988 the Syracuse Children's Chorus incorporated and received Section 501(c)(3) status.

The Chorus has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer, and has been heard on National Public Radio's The First Art and Performance Today, as well as on international broadcasts in England, Hong Kong, China, and Canada. National and international highlights have included a 1988 performance at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, a Carnegie Hall debut in 1990, Guest Artists-in-Residence at the Choral Music Experience Institute, and performances at Music Educators National Conferences and International Society for Music Education World Conference in Holland. In 1998, the Chorus served as Guest Artists at the International Children's Choir Festival and World Conference in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guilin, and Guangzhou, China. In 1999 the Chorus performed with the Toronto Children's Chorus in Toronto, and in 2000 TCC performed with the Chorus in Syracuse. In 2001 the choristers were featured performers at the World of Children's Choirs International Festival and Symposium in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2003 the Chorus served as Honor Choir at the Children in Harmony Choral Festival in Orlando. Most recently, the Syracuse Children's Chorus had the extraordinary honor of performing in Minneapolis for several thousand music teachers at the 59th Biennial National In-Service Conference of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) in April, 2004.

As a cultural institution, the Syracuse Children's Chorus is dedicated to the advancement of American and world music and the creation of new works, and has commissioned and/or premiered over 65 works by composers from the United States, Canada, England and China. In 2002, the Chorus was honored to receive the ASCAP/Chorus America award for Adventurous Programming. The Chorus has performed frequently with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and with internationally known musicians Bob Chilcott, Gregg Smith, Eileen Strempel, Fabio Mechetti, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, the Voices of Liberty, Doreen Rao and the late Christopher Keene and Calvin Custer. Choristers have participated in numerous national and world honors choirs.

Today, the Syracuse Children's Chorus is internationally recognized as a model for American children's choirs and performance-based music education. Under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Tagg, Artistic Director and Founder, the Chorus is an advocate for the children's choir movement, music education, and for the commissioning of new works by American composers. Throughout the Chorus's years of artistic and professional growth, its focus has remained on the children of Central New York. In addition to touring and major performances, the Chorus continues to present a wealth of local concerts and workshops, inspiring young artists to achieve meaningful goals through focused individual and group efforts. Through their participation, the children experience the joy of singing and contribute to the development of the American choral tradition.