The Long Beach Youth Chorus will begin its second full year with a performance Saturday to kick off the city's next Beach Street event.
That happens this Saturday, and the concert is at the Downtown Entertainment Hub at Third Street and Pacific Avenue — the downtown end of the Beach Streets route. Applications to join the chorus and more information will be available there.
The community children’s chorus was founded in 2017 by Executive Director Stan DeWitt.
“I’m the choral director with the Grace First Presbyterian Church children’s choir and while developing new plans for the church choir I suggested establishing a community children’s choral program, apart from the church,” DeWitt said. “I wanted to fill a need not met in the city.”
DeWitt said talk of creating a community children’s chorus began five years ago. He said there are schools in the city without choral programs. Some students don’t have the chance to be exposed to choir or music theatre, DeWitt said, and he wanted to change that.
With the help of community supporters like the Long Beach Symphony and Long Beach Chorale, the children’s chorus was able to form. And the chorus has seen an increase in participants.
“Last year we had 13 kids, we currently have 25,” DeWitt said. “Seeing how they’ve changed, the improvement and confidence gained in one season, it’s fabulous.”
There is currently one chorus but DeWitt said he hopes to break into four or five, broken up by grade groups. The group aspires to perform with other choral groups in Long Beach as well as be the choral group of schools in the city that don’t have choral programs. While still a new chorus, DeWitt said he is thinking big picture for the future.
“We want to make touring a regular part of the season and provide more music in the realm of children’s music,” he said. “Our concerts in June feature world premieres of two works of music commissioned by composers. We really want to create a bigger space for art and imagination for the kids.”
The chorus is open to grades four to 12, no experience required. The chorus offers private voice lessons taught by volunteer vocal coaches. The tuition for a whole season is $100. Keeping that price tag was important to DeWitt in regard to accessibility for the community.
“We wanted to make sure financial barriers were taken into account so anyone could join,” he said. “This group is for the lovers of choirs but also for the kids that don’t have that exposure because it can be life changing.”
Registration will be available at Saturday's performance. For more information about the Long Beach Youth Chorus, their performances and registration, visit www.longbeachyouthchorus.org.