Now in its 20th year, “Strong Voices” is Music of the Baroque’s nationally recognized arts education program that supports and enhances choral programs at Chicago public high schools and assists talented young singers who might otherwise lack the resources to pursue their musical ambitions.
Partnering schools are matched with a Music of the Baroque teaching artist who works with chorus directors and students every week from September to June giving individual and group lessons, leading warm-ups, and coaching choirs. Teaching artists collaborate with chorus directors to tailor the program to fit the specific needs of partner schools through a range of other events, from solo master classes to choral workshops. In addition, teaching artists often perform with other Music of the Baroque ensemble members at the schools and students are invited to Music of the Baroque concerts and open rehearsals. All of these services and activities are offered at no cost to students or the participating schools.
“I always thought I was a second soprano, but my Music of the Baroque teacher helped me learn how to expand my range. I can sing so much higher now. I learned that I could produce a larger sound with better breath support.”
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Unlike arts education programs that consist of short-term residencies or single performances, “Strong Voices” runs throughout the entire school year, allowing students to forge a strong relationship with their mentors. By working with a professional musician on a regular basis, students learn proper vocal technique, improve performance skills, and gain greater exposure to and appreciation for classical music.
“I love that the Music of the Baroque performers are always willing to show us what they do and to answer our questions. Now I pay a lot of attention to their posture, breathing, and facial expressions.”
Over the years, “Strong Voices” has profoundly impacted the lives of many young musicians both inside and outside the classroom. Students in the “Strong Voices” program develop confidence, discipline, perseverance, responsibility, and teamwork, taking great pride in their newfound skills and accomplishments.
“I learned to have confidence and not be embarrassed. I think the most rewarding thing, however, was singing my solo for my parents and watching my mom cry because of how much she loved it. The feeling when I sing is incredible. I love it!”
Music of the Baroque currently works with five partner schools—Hubbard High School, Kelly High School, Lake View High School, Lane Technical High School, and Lindblom Math and Science Academy. Choral groups and choirs from these schools compete and perform around the city and state. Listen to two performances:
Music of the Baroque’s 2011–12 “Strong Voices” program was generously supported by the Chicago Community Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, and Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation.
For more information about the “Strong Voices” program, please contact Music of the Baroque’s Artistic Manager, John Ryan.