No sweeter sound fills a performance space than the voices of the upcoming generation united in song. Join the Houston Chamber Choir for Hear the Future, an annual event in which the company invites three outstanding school choirs from the Greater Houston area to participate in its invitational choral festival. The free event takes place at 4-5 p.m. on Sunday January 26 at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main, featuring performances from each choir and culminates with the guest vocalists joining Houston Chamber Choir to close the concert.
The featured choirs joining the festival include Parker Elementary Advanced Chorus from Houston ISD, Salyards [Middle School] Varsity Treble Chorale from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Clements High School Concert Chorale from Fort Bend ISD.
"[The audience] can see how these musicians are growing from elementary school to middle school to high school and to a professional setting. It’s fun to see what their future in professional music could look like," said Emily Jenkins, Choral Conducting Intern with the organization.
Arts educators Amy Moore, along with Janet Menzie and Ryan Bogner, will lead the middle and high school choirs respectively. Jenkins will lead the elementary choir as well as the performance involving Houston Chamber Choir.
"To me, the future of choral music, the future of our schools and communities is dependent on arts education. It's essential to development and success. We see it play out time and time again in what these students achieve," Jenkins said. "In this concert, we see it first hand. In one room, in one concert, we see all ages and we see this growth and what the future will look like. It’s important to show that to the community and to show that to the students. They can see their options, what they do and what they can achieve [in the future], even if it's not in this field. It shapes them not just as musicians but also as human beings."
This weekend marks 21 years Houston Chamber Choir has hosted the festival and the second year for the organization to add a special clinic on Saturday for eight high school choirs from Title I schools. Leading the clinic will be Kristina Caswell MacMullen, who will provide expert guidance and instruction to each of the participating youth ensembles.
With so many schools to choose from in the area for both the workshop and the concert, it's natural to wonder how the choirs are selected, which Houston Chamber Choir Founder and Artistic Director Bob Simpson explained via email.
"We have two very experienced educational consultants, Sally Schott and Eddie Quaid. Each has distinguished careers as high school choral directors. They help me identify the choirs for the Saturday choral clinic and the Sunday festival," he said. "On Saturday, we look for choirs that are up and coming with very talented directors who are doing a lot with sometimes limited funding. They may not be able to afford a clinician on their own, so we are eager to provide one of the best on this occasion. On Sunday, three choirs with long-standing excellence are invited to showcase the finest directors and choirs in our area. It's a pat on the back and a welcome chance to celebrate hard work and talent that often goes under-appreciated."
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In a bittersweet turn of events, Simpson and his wife Marianna will not be in attendance for the festival. Instead, they will be participating in GRAMMY activities on the same day. Houston Chamber Choir is nominated for Best Choral Performance underneath the Classical category for its recording of "Duruflé: The Complete Works." The 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
The album also proved a serendipitous moment for Jenkins, who previously served as the Assistant Director of Choirs at the University of West Georgia before moving to Houston to begin her doctoral studies at University of Houston under professor Betsy Cook Weber.
"Duruflé is an amazing album. It was my first introduction to the chamber choir before I got the opportunity to work with them. It played on repeat for months. It has such attention to detail and genuine singing. It’s a beautiful work of art," Jenkins said. "When I found out I was going to work with Houston Chamber Choir, it was almost like worlds colliding. The singers are so excited to be recognized with this nomination. Bob and Marianna and members of the board are so excited to be nominated, and it's well deserved."
Hear The Future takes place from 4-5 p.m. Sunday at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main . For information, visit houstonchamberchoir.org. Free.