Quotes and Remarks

Musicians

Maestro David Robertson
Music Director
St. Louis Symphony

Having begun my musical life singing in a choir, I know how much the collective experience of music making is formative to all levels of learning. We at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra are delighted to have a group of this quality in our midst and look forward to supporting and working with The St. Louis Children’s Choirs for a long time to come.

Ludwig Wicki
Guest Conductor 

The Lord of the Rings Symphony
Saint Louis Symphony
Back in Europe, I am still in the mood of the St. Louis concerts. You impressed me very much. It’s so fantastic how easy you followed me, and how sure you were as with entrances and with the music. A big compliment to you! It looks easy, but it isn’t. I really liked your sound, which is round and clear. The intonation was just perfect. The soloists were absolutely sure and musical. This is due to the work of a very good Choirmaster and her professional teaching approach. Thank you for your very important work.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch review — September 2008

David Halen
Concertmaster
St. Louis Symphony

When parents ask me how to instill a love of music in their children, I enthusiastically recommend The St. Louis Children’s Choirs. The Children’s Choirs gave my son a love for great music and I am continually impressed with the artistry and excellence reflected by the students in the program. The beauty of their singing and the heartfelt sincerity they bring to their work is extraordinary.

Dr. A. Dennis Sparger
Music Director
Bach Society of Saint Louis

The St. Louis Children’s Choirs not only offers exceptional musical training experiences to hundreds of children each year, but is also a vital thread in our city’s artistic fabric. Your vision develops the thought and critical judgment process as well as vocal and musical skills. The result is much more than well-prepared young musicians: it is also highly-refined performances capable of moving audiences by their artistry.

Students

For me, The St. Louis Children’s Choirs has been much more than a hobby; it has transformed a talent and a passion into a new understanding. My time spent with the organization has truly taught me the meaning behind being an artist. It teaches the vulnerability, selflessness, and sense of humanity needed to convey stories and emotion through song.—MB

It’s not often that high schoolers get the chance to sing at Carnegie Hall and Powell Hall. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have enjoyed during my five years of choir. I have learned so much about precision, discipline, and excellence from my time here.—JH

Singing with the Saint Louis Symphony will always be some of my most treasured experiences. The professional atmosphere combined with such amazing levels of talent makes singing with the Symphony an unforgettable experience. I will always enjoy these memories.—MG

The solid decade I have spent in The St. Louis Children’s Choirs has given me many things; among those are discipline, poise, friendship, and confidence. But the most important gift the Choirs have given me is the passion of music that I cherish so much. It is the true universal language of our world.—CM

Getting the chance to sing with the Saint Louis Symphony has added so much to my experience in The St. Louis Children’s Choirs. The thrill of being on stage with the musicians at Powell Hall was unlike anything I could’ve imagined. Traveling to New York City to sing at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Maestro David Robertson was truly a moving experience and the highlight of my time in the Choirs.—GR

I was brand new to The St. Louis Children’s Choirs this year, and it has been a huge experience for me. I’ve learned tons about singing, reading music, and performing, and every bit of it has been fun. Don’t get me wrong; it required a lot of hard work but it was all completely worth it. I will forever be grateful for my time spent in The St. Louis Children’s Choirs.—PR

In the nine years I have been in the Children’s Choirs, I have learned more valuable lessons than I could have imagined. Children’s Choirs teaches more than just music – it teaches lessons of leadership, personal morals, friendship, and cooperation. Children’s Choirs has prepared me for more than just a career in vocal music – I have learned what kind of person I am and who I want to be. I will never forget the wonderful musical memories I have experienced with friends that will last a lifetime.—AW

Being a part of The St. Louis Children’s Choirs is like having your hand held by a child. That gentle touch is all it takes to replace fear with the innocence of love. In humble gratitude, I thank the Choirs for opening my eyes, my heart, and my voice to the grace of music. May music one day heal mankind.—RW

The Choirs has given me the discipline to work hard to be the person I want and need to be. It has taught me the joy of having strong bonds of collaboration and friendship. Whatever future I have with music, I will always take with me the inspiration of seeing everything in a different perspective.—KW

I’m excited to go off to college and pursue my dream of becoming a professional singer, there’s no doubt of that. But there’s also no doubt that a great deal of my inspiration and love for the music comes from these Choirs. I found a family here at the Choirs and I know that I have their support, just as they all have mine.—BW

Parents

My daughter applied for and was accepted to Interlochen Arts Camp this summer. I know she would not have been accepted if it had not been for the training and support she receives at SLCC.—MP

Our three children have enjoyed a relationship with The St. Louis Children’s Choirs for almost ten years now and we can all agree that it is the absolute best experience that we have had as a family; in fact, we consider the Choirs, its staff, and directors to be an extension of our family. That is the level of warmth and caring that comes with being a part of this incredible organization. Our lives are each far richer because of The St. Louis Children’s Choirs experience.—AM

The St. Louis Children’s Choirs have taught my children that hard work has its rewards. It has given them transformative once-in-a-lifetime experiences. How many teenagers can say they’ve performed on stage at Powell Symphony Hall, spent two weeks touring Australia and performed at Lincoln Center? They’ve also learned to blend their expression with others, a helpful skill in our wonderfully diverse world.—TS

Being a part of The St. Louis Children’s Choirs has been an amazing experience for our daughter. Not only has she learned to make beautiful music, she has learned lifelong lessons about being a responsible and thoughtful person. She has also made great friends by being a part of this wonderful and very special organization.—NM

Our daughter loves singing with The St. Louis Children’s Choirs and considers the rehearsal times to be the highlight of her week. As a parent, I not only appreciate the high level of musical excellence taught and displayed by each director, but the overall importance placed on the value of the students and Choir staff to be of good character. Our youngest daughter is now looking forward to auditioning to join the Choirs next season.—DT

Alumni

Nicole Werther
“I have way too many great memories to post here! I started singing in Children’s Choir in 1985 and worked my way up through Chorale and then Concert Choir and eventually Chamber Singers. I made some of my best friends in the choirs and they changed my life in so many ways: the friends, the commitment and dedication and hard work, the amazing tours, the music, Mrs. Sparfeld, etc. etc. etc. I’m still singing in a choir today (The Back Bay Chorale in Boston) and it’s all because of The St. Louis Children’s Choirs!”

Miranda Wood
“I still look at the clock on Monday and Thursday nights and think, ‘Oh I should be in choir right about now!’ There is no way that I would be the person I am today without the Choirs. The things I learned, the experiences that I have taken away and the lifelong friends that I have made will forever more change my life.”

Lily Pappas
“In my eight years as a member of the St. Louis Children’s Choirs, I learned many important and relevant life lessons. I was taught that hard work and diligence creates a strong and confident performance. I learned that working toward a common goal with many of my dearest friends rewarded me with years of friendship and comradery. I believed that anyone willing to put in the time and effort to creating wonderful music would receive, in turn, the greatest gift of all – the understanding that music, when made together, will one day heal mankind.

“I thank each and every one of you for encouraging your children the way my parents encouraged me. It is important for these blossoming performers to feel the love of not only their audience, but also those closest to them. By supporting their early interest in the arts, you are scaffolding the future’s creators, songwriters, and performers, and for that, I know we are all truly grateful. But most of all, I thank you, children, for sharing your voices with us today, and I hope that you all never stop fostering your love for music.”

Chris Lowrey
“I grew up in The St. Louis Children’s Choirs and sang for 7 years; I grew from a boy to a man physically here, joining as a soprano and finishing, after a very dramatic 2-week voice change between my 2nd and 3rd years, as a bass. I also met many friends with whom I remain close to this day, not the least of which is my fiancee who I met in Chamber Singers when we were only 15. I started chasing her almost 17 years ago, but she finally came around.

“It is also in The St. Louis Children’s Choirs where I grew into my burgeoning love of music. From my first impressions, that making music was really fun and exciting, to my later realization that putting in the time and effort to make BEAUTIFUL music could feed my soul and make me a better person FROM WITHIN.

“In these days of instant entertainment and always-plugged-in communication, music has as much life-changing force as ever. Thanks to all of you [who enroll in the Children’s Choirs], your children will carry this gift with them for the rest of their lives. Not only their love of music, but the understanding that they have the power to positively affect change in others.

“Thank you on behalf of your children. Thank you on behalf of all of us who are alums who are so proud to have been a part of this organization. But most of all, thank you for believing in the transformative power of music and encouraging your child to pursue it.”

Michele (Harding) Herndon
“I am still involved in music by singing at church. My 13 and 11 year old sons are both musical as well, so far playing the piano and singing in school choir but I think the guitar and possibly the saxophone are coming soon! I am a Nurse Coordinator at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and am currently in a Master’s of Nursing Program through Mizzou.” “[In] so many ways The St. Louis Children’s Choirs instilled a love and appreciation of good music in me, helped me have ‘mad’ sight reading skills, helped me grow socially, took me to so many different places in the U.S. and the world.”

Chris Cunningham
“My experience with SLCC, along with other influences, helped me develop a passion for this unique art form. Singing with such a small ensemble and the clear precision required to do so were immensely beneficial during college. Because of the wonderful experience and the knowledge gained with the SLCC I went on to found The Naturals, Marquette University’s first a cappella group, in 2003. Since college, I was involved with a church choir in Chicago until the time requirements became too difficult to juggle with work. I recently moved to Cleveland and have been toying with the possibility of getting more involved with music again.”

Julie (Pincus) Glossenger
“I am an elementary art teacher at Chesterfield Elementary in the Rockwood School District — I’m in my 3rd year of teaching. I live with my husband, Daniel and my dog, Homer in South City St. Louis. I no longer participate in a choir but I have picked up playing the accordion and have been doing so for a year, Mrs. Berner taught me everything I know about reading music and it has been very helpful for picking up a new instrument!”

Tobin Sparfeld
“I was the longest-serving member of the St. Louis Children’s Choirs. My mother, Ethelyn Sparfeld, took over the choirs when I was four. I remember the “choir office” when it started—a desk with a red alarm-clock/phone on it underneath the bottom of the stairs in our basement. We started out humbly—the first rehearsals were in Diane Finley’s living room. Each year we got a better, adding members; one choir became two, and then three. At the end of each season, the choirs sounded fuller than at the beginning.

“Over the years the choirs have had great artistic leadership that cherished the growth and imagination of every child and provided a safe space for singers to express themselves. SLCC taught us individual ownership while also working together to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

“I remember our first tour to the Soviet Union, before Communism had fallen. Visiting an old church, we asked the officials permission to sing. Reluctant at first, their hearts softened, as American children in Communist Russia sang [the SLCC theme song] “We Gather Here Together” in English and in Russian. Perhaps never before has that final phrase meant so much to the ears of those in attendance—that “music made together may one day heal mankind.”

“I’ll end not by talking about the past 35 years, but asking about the next 35 years. What will SLCC look like and sound like then? We are the ones whose support will determine the future of SLCC—by being in this room we have chosen ourselves as the ones to do it. So I ask for your help because I believe the best way to celebrate this organization’s great past to support its great future.”

Elizabeth Levy
“What does it take to get to Carnegie Hall?” my friend asked me the other day. She was referring to tackling a difficult issue in my life, and the dedication and practice it takes to overcome obstacles. Because of my time in The St. Louis Children’s Choirs, I could smile at her and respond, with full knowledge of what it truly means, “Practice, practice, practice!” The Children’s Choirs trains young musicians, and yes, that means learning your music, coming to rehearsals on time, never forgetting your water and your pencil, but it also means learning how to treat your fellow choir members with respect and dignity and how to come together to work for a cause of beauty and worth greater than oneself.

“That music made together may one day heal mankind”. This is a goal the Children’s Choirs made me believe was possible from the age of 7. And as I’ve gotten older, again I have come to realize that it was not just the music of the songs we sang that created that kind of profound ability for healing and repair. It is the community-building, support, dedication and love that being part of an organization like the Choirs teaches its members.

“Being in The St. Louis Children’s Choirs gave me a chance to see the world beyond what I might have known, which included choir tours to Kansas City to learn choral jazz, and international tours to Scandinavia and Scotland. Because of the Children’s Choirs I’ve heard bag-pipes on the moors of Scotland, and slept in three-story bunk bed in a hostel by the sea in Norway. I’ve picked fresh raspberries and made tarts in Arvika, Sweden. I’ve wandered through Tivoli Gardens as the light fades and sung on the stage there. I’ve seen the home of Hans Christian Anderson, and done Tai Chi on the lawns of St. Andrews University. On each of these trips, I had the opportunity to be a part of master-classes training world-class choral educators and to make music with other choirs from around the world.

“It wasn’t just by taking planes and busses, however, that the Choirs expanded by horizons. I got to know kids from all over the St. Louis area and beyond. It was a place where cliques and social status and academic pressures faded for a bit, and we got to know one another as musicians and singers and dear friends. For me, and so many of my life-long friends, the Children’s Choirs was a lifeline in dark times, and a shining light throughout our young lives.

“For 35 years, The St. Louis Children’s Choirs has been bringing high quality music education to the children of St. Louis, and beautiful music to all those fortunate enough to hear them sing. Singing again today, I am moved once again by the power of these voices to stir something deep inside. I still find myself wishing that time could turn back to one of those magical nights where hours of practice gelled and the risers rang with harmonies perfected. And then I remember I don’t have to turn back time to access the gifts The St. Louis Children’s Choirs has given me for they are always within my heart and soul — a deep love of music, the tools of teamwork, leadership and confidence and, always, a dedication to making this world a better place, day by day working to heal human-kind.”

LF—My main point in writing is to say thank you for everything. Nothing will ever compare to the discipline and training I received from the Children’s Choirs and I am forever grateful to you for the knowledge and passion you shared with me throughout my childhood.… I always felt a part of the Choirs and never pressured in any way, which was a nice change from other activities I was involved in. You truly provided a learning environment that made us all feel safe and loved and eager to perform at the best of our artistic ability. The skills I learned in the Choirs are so valuable to me even now, some ten years later from when I started in Chorale.

SR—The Children’s Choirs have meant the world to me in so many ways. I have many memories from trips taken, people that I met, and my relationship[s]. The maturity I gained through the Choirs has been exemplified in other choirs I have been in since, and groups that I have led. The Choirs has made me realize that there are good, genuine people in the world who care about your success.