By Sarah Hilpmann (Kreider), BCCC alumna and BYC Choristers Director
It is undeniable that December is a month filled with music. Whether we’re walking around the grocery store hearing holiday pop songs on the radio, walking down the streets hearing carolers at a nearby shop, or maybe even singing the carols ourselves, singing is a huge part of this season.
Making music together, and specifically singing together, is an impactful, grounding, and heart-filling part of the hubbub of this month.
As I think back on the Decembers of my childhood, I have many fond memories of the gift of making music in Berks Classical Children’s Chorus Christmas concerts over the years. Specifically, I loved the arrangement of “Children Go Where I Send Thee” that we sang together. I vividly remember laughing with friends and joyfully rehearsing the piece in GoggleWorks room 420.
BCCC offered these moments for me at all times of the year, and it gave me a space to foster a love of music that I didn’t understand the significance of at the time.
I very much looked forward to rehearsals where I knew I would share smiles with friends, but also knew I would learn through some pretty wonderful directors. They were inspiring not only through the way they led us and taught us musical skills, but in the way they fostered a fun and welcoming environment for us to grow and learn.
I can remember summer weeks with Dr. Wolfe joking around about his fun patterned socks and shorts. His smile was contagious and his passion for choral music and sharing that passion with us young singers was always apparent. Dr. Adams would joke with us, but also held us to high standards (most notably when we needed to memorize the German words to “Heidenroslein” but were not rising to her expectations, and she begrudgingly made us signs with the words to follow along and spark our memories). Mr. Brunner was always a goofy bright spot to rehearsals. He always made things fun and exciting, but in a way that still allowed us to reach our full potential when it came to making beautiful music.
These are just a few of the adults who touched my life as a young singer. I credit all of my BCCC directors with helping to mold me into the musician that I am today, and the music teacher that I am today.
It is surreal for me to think that I have stepped into a similar position for new singers that these role models held for me years ago. I am so thankful for the young singers that have been a part of Choristers these past two years and I strive to be for them what my directors were for me throughout my time in BCCC/BYC. I love sitting back and watching the singers interact with each other before and after rehearsals and during breaks. Stepping back and seeing their friendships blossom and grow each week is so rewarding.
Although much has changed in the organization since my early days in Berks Classical Children’s Chorus starting in 2003 (such as the name), I am happy to report that the enthusiasm of our singers is a constant.
A love of singing and music making is the glue that holds this organization together, and it is a glue that bonds our singers to each other. They are the reason we do what we do, and they are so worth the work that goes into everything. Seeing them find their place in an inclusive environment amidst a world that is often so exclusionary is rewarding. It is all the more rewarding knowing they are finding their place through music and song.
There is something special about singing together. It bonds us together despite our differences and it is a powerful force. I am so thankful that BYC is still sharing the beauty and impact of communal music making with young people. I am honored to be a part of this process and to be fostering a love of singing and choral music in a new generation of children.
As you continue through this holiday season, take note of the communal music making happening around you. We are so thankful for all you have done to make sure that our BYC singers can continue to grow and make music together.
Our voices are a powerful force—both in this month when music seems to be in the very air we breathe, and as we strive to carry the spirit of this season with us throughout the rest of the year.
In a world where there is Berks Youth Chorus, “how can we keep from singing?”