HistoryIn 2006, Karen Markey, Founder of the Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus, was looking toward retirement. As a professor of Music Education at West Chester University, Dr. Kristen Albert was eager to start a children's chorus program at WCU that would provide training and internships for our WCU students while providing an advanced musical outlet for children in Chester and surrounding communities. And just as the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup came to be, two great ideas were about to come together to form something wonderful. One of our Music Education majors, who was also a student in the Honors College at the time, came separately to Mrs. Markey and to Dr. Albert and proposed to bring these two great “tastes” together, to form the perfect Peanut Butter Cup—the Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus In-Residence at West Chester University. WCU alumna Emily MacLean Scarola, whose younger sisters were active in the Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus (KSCC) worked with Dr. Albert, Karen Markey, leaders of the Kennett Symphony of Chester County, and with Dr. Timothy Blair, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at WCU to create a two year transition plan, designed to bring the KSCC to its new home as Children's Chorus in Residence at West Chester University. The KSCC continues its healthy affiliation as an educational outreach of the Kennett Symphony of Chester County. The Chorus is led by Dr. Kristen Albert, Artistic Director, Mrs. Nancy Lineburger, and Mr. Drue Bullington, Associate Conductors.
Now in its 20th season, the Kennett Symphony Children s Chorus is a community choral organization for boys and girls ages seven through eighteen. KSCC is an educational outreach of the Kennett Symphony of Chester County and gives qualified singers an opportunity to perform high-caliber, age-appropriate repertoire that is culturally and musically diverse while nurturing vocal and musical development within an ensemble setting. Singers are auditioned and placed by age and/or experience in one of three groups, the Ensemble, the Chorus, or Youth Chorale. Numbering more than eighty singers in grades 2 through 12, the choristers represent public, private, parochial and home schools in the Chester County and the Northern Delaware Region.
Fall, 2010 marks the fourth year of the Children's Chorus' residency at WCU, and throughout the residency program, more than 50 Music Education majors (also known as “candidates”) have chosen to enhance their teacher education program by becoming involved with the Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus. These candidates, through their participation in a specially designed course, "Practicum in Teaching the Children's Chorus" work as KSCC support staff under the guidance of Dr. Albert. In addition to providing musical accompaniment for the KSCC, candidates have the opportunity to work with the musical, creative, and administrative aspects of the program. In the spring, a similar course is being offered at the graduate level for teachers currently in the field.
The residency of the Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus is something unique to our corner of Pennsylvania. West Chester is the only university in the State System that has a full-time residency for a community children's musical ensemble that includes a significant candidate component through courses and internships. Only Duquesne University (Pittsburgh PA) offers a similar residency. The goal of the Department of Music Education at WCU is to train exceptional choral music educators; this residency and partnership plays a significant role in providing exceptional training for the candidates who become involved with this program.
Dr. Albert, as Artistic Director of the Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus, has developed an Internship Program where advanced music education majors may apply and audition for a paid internship with the KSCC, for up to a full year. Currently two senior music education majors hold these paid internship positions with the KSCC.
Every summer, the directors of the Chorus provide a week-long summer choral camp to prepare the singers to participate in the annual performance of the Kennett Symphony at Longwood Gardens. In past summers, the camps have prepared the singers to perform the following works:
- Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
- 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky
- Thomas Moore Medley by Thomas Moore, arranged for the Brandywine Harp Orchestra and Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus by Janet Witman
The KSCC rehearses on the WCU campus every Tuesday evening from September through May, with a brief break over the December holidays.
Your financial support to the Kennett Symphony Children's Chorus is welcome.