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Children's chorus seeks new singers

Date: 5/24/2011

May 25, 2011

By Lori Szepelak


SOUTH HADLEY —For two sisters in town, the South Hadley Children's Chorus is a great way to make friends and to showcase their love of singing.

"Over the three years since Caroline joined the chorus, she has made friends with many children she wouldn't have otherwise met and has had the opportunity to sing in many important venues," Shannon Gurek said during an interview with Reminder Publications.

Gurek noted that because Caroline has greatly enjoyed the chorus experience, her younger daughter, Christine, asked to join last year.

"Now both girls participate together in a group they enjoy, doing something they love," Gurek added.

Cathy Melhorn, chorus director, will conduct open auditions June 1 and 8 for new members for the coming season.

Both Gurek sisters will once again be a part of the chorus, and Shannon Gurek couldn't be happier for her girls.

"Cathy does a fantastic job of pulling the best out of the children and making them proud of their accomplishments," Gurek said. "Her work to keep the chorus season balanced but challenging is absolutely amazing."

Melhorn noted in an interview that the chorus recently completed a "very successful" season, including being named a semi-finalist in WGBY's Together in Song competition. The chorus also presented several public concerts in Amherst, Northampton, Belchertown, South Hadley and Chicopee (as part of the Big Sing West).

Parents interested in additional information about the 2011-2012 chorus season, or in arranging an informal 10-minute interview at South Hadley's Center Congregational Church on June 1 or 8 between 4 and 6 p.m., should contact Melhorn at or call her at 548-1098.

"[There's ] nothing to prepare ahead, children will be asked to read words and echo the pitches sung to them," Melhorn said.

The chorus enrolls boys and girls, ages 7 to 14, from many Pioneer Valley towns. Rehearsals are conducted Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m., September through mid-May in town. Special repertoire and solo opportunities are provided for older singers; singers in grades four to nine are especially encouraged to audition.

There is a $125 annual membership fee, with scholarships available.

"Returning members help new members adjust quickly to chorus routines and boost our learning curve," Melhorn said. "So we're hoping that most of our current members will indeed stick with the chorus. Musically, the more the merrier!"

Melhorn acknowledged the "continuous support" from the South Hadley Cultural Council and the South Hadley Chorale, its sponsoring adult chorus, in ensuring that children have an outlet to share their voices with others.

Melhorn also acknowledged those who volunteer their time to work with the children in a variety of capacities, including Jamie Goodnow, pianist, Grace Hudkins, a Mount Holyoke sophomore from California, and Mount Holyoke graduate Beckie Markarian, now on the music department staff. Several parents also assist with occasional parties and refreshments and in terms of administration, Sarah Nyarko has assisted as a volunteer parent coordinator.

Melhorn relishes her role as director and notes that the chorus is special because it brings children together from different towns and different educational backgrounds home schoolers, charter schoolers and public schoolers.

"Together they grow both musically and socially," Melhorn said. "They are kind and supportive of each other. They are mostly focused in rehearsal, use their time well, recognize their own progress toward a common goal, and very much enjoy sharing their music with their concert audiences."

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