“In the Music”

Gabrielle, a first year student in AMPlify, reacts to hearing AMPlify and the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir sing together for the first time!

Meet Gabrielle. As you may surmise from this photo, she is a bundle of joy.
This photo captures a moment she experienced last Monday as she joined over 100 choristers from all over the Atlanta metropolitan area, singing together for the first time. It was a transformative moment, and Gabrielle was lost in wonderment. She was, as we say, “in the music”. But the true beauty of this moment isn’t what Gabrielle felt in that space, but in what she will do as a result of that feeling in coming weeks, months and years as a result of this experience.

AMPlify Young Artists warm up with the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir at Clayton State University

Allow me to explain. You may know the Atlanta Music Project is currently celebrating it’s fifth year of operation. It’s a worthy accomplishment and for us it’s like throwing a year-long party – and everyone’s invited. We are celebrating by producing joint concerts throughout the metropolitan area with some of Atlanta’s finest youth choral and instrumental ensembles. For AMPlify, I knew there was no better place to start than a joint demonstration concert with the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir (SHCC) at Clayton State University.

Dr. Martha Shaw and I after the AMPlify/Spivey Hall Demonstration Concert at Clayton State University

For years Dr. Martha Shaw (a Georgia legend in her own right) has led the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir to be a beacon of choral excellence in the area. She and SHCC President Carol Abarr, decided to host an open rehearsal and demonstration performance with AMPlify. We would learn one piece to perform together, and each ensemble (AMPlify, Spivey Hall Children’s Choir, Spivey Hall Tour Choir) would perform for each other. I loved the idea. What I expected was a great opportunity for my young singers to stand and perform with old and new choir friends. I expected them to stand a little taller and maybe hold their head a little higher as they stood next to singers as much as twice their age. To my delight, my expectations were exceeded.

Girls of AMPlify Choir poses after performing with AMPlify staff James Dekle, Keeyen Martin and myself.

On last Monday afternoon we boarded a bus at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood for Girls to head to Clayton State University. We boarded the bus at 5PM – Young Artists, AMPlify staff and a load of parents and siblings. It was a family affair! Most of the singers on the trip are new to AMPlify this year, so they could hardly contain their excitement for their first AMPlify trip. By the time we arrived at 5:45, we had rehearsed every warm up and song we knew. Once we walked into the rehearsal space, I knew we had made the right decision. The Spivey Hall Children’s Choir members were kind and brilliantly talented. When it was time for us to rehearse our joint piece, “Personent Hodie “ by Gustav Holst, AMPlify mouths fell open at the drop of the baton. They were mesmerized by the beauty and the fullness of the sound (see Gabrielle’s face in the picture above).

AMPlify third graders focus during choir rehearsal with Spivey Hall Children’s Choir at Clayton State University

During our short time together, I saw new habits being formed and old ones abruptly dismissed. Though the singers had never met before that day, the music bonded them in a way that no other activity could have. After the performance, we gathered for cookies in the lobby of Spivey Hall for the youth to swap choir stories as their parents offered congratulations. For Gabrielle and friends, it was a night to remember. Until next time…

An AMPlify Young Artist makes new friends during a mix and mingle with Spivey Hall Children’s Choir members.

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