- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Following on the heels of the Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra, there will soon be a chorus for youth in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, starting this fall.
The Southern Maryland Youth Choir’s inaugural season is slated to begin with auditions in September. The choir will be for singers in grades 2–8 and divided into two tiers — one for elementary students and one for middle school students.
The choir will welcome singers with little to no musical background, although those interested are asked to audition so that directors may gauge the musical potential and motivation of each participant, a press release states.
Krystal McCoy of St. Mary’s County envisioned a youth choir for this area, which was previously a nonexistent opportunity for younger children. McCoy was very familiar with opportunities for adults and older students, as she directs St. Maries Musica, a select community choir based in Southern Maryland, and also the Southern Maryland Encore Chorale at Asbury-Solomons, the release states. Additionally, she is an adjunct faculty member at the College of Southern Maryland where she teaches music appreciation and conducts the CSM Chorale.
McCoy began talking with peers about starting a children’s choir, and her idea quickly took hold. According to the release, McCoy became acquainted with Susan Bisson Lambert of Park Hall, who is the current secretary of the Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra. SMYOrch, a youth orchestra for grades 6-12 in the tri-county area, just performed its third concert in May. Lambert knew the SMYOrch Board of Directors was well-equipped and interested in providing more musical opportunities for children in the area. The idea was pitched in January, and the SMYChoir became a reality.
“I am delighted to find an organization willing to support a youth choir in Southern Maryland,” McCoy said in the release.
Julia Nichols, founder and president of SMYOrch, said of SMYChoir in the release, “I am excited to expand our organization to include other youth performance groups. I believe that participating with peers in a music group provides a fun, learning and team-building experience unlike any other.”
SMYChoir has selected two directors for the program, Laurel Dietz of California, Md., and Lori Beth Sink of Patuxent River.
Dietz is the supervisor of instruction for fine arts for St. Mary’s County Public Schools. Dietz is a 1996 graduate of Leonardtown High School. After graduating from high school, she continued her studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she majored in piano under the guidance of Eliza Garth. Before graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in music, Dietz participated in the college orchestra, jazz ensemble and choir. She earned her master’s in human resource development: educational leadership from Towson University in 2010, the release states.
Dietz enjoyed a stay at Leonardtown High School as the interim choral director before accepting her first teaching position at Hollywood Elementary School, where she taught general music, as well as directed the band and chorus for two years. Dietz next enjoyed a stay at Great Mills High School as the choral director. Her choral groups were consistently recognized at the state level for superior performances, the release states.
Dietz loves to perform throughout the community. According to the release, she is an original member of Patuxent Voices, a local women’s a cappella singing ensemble. She currently holds the position of director as well as member, singing alto.
“Guiding children in their musical growth brings me so much joy! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to once again direct a chorus of children,” Dietz said in the release.
Sink moved to Maryland in 2011 and began her first elementary school teaching job of teaching general music and chorus at Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary School. The Sink family most recently moved from the state of Oklahoma, where Sink spent two years teaching middle and high school music, according to the release.
Sink studied piano and voice throughout college, and she holds a bachelor’s in music education from Furman University of Greenville, S.C. Her master’s in music performance in choral conducting is from Florida State University of Tallahassee. She sang with many choirs, such as the Furman Singers and the Florida State University Chamber Choir, and was able to travel on European and U.S. concert tours and with ensembles such as the Boston Pops. She began her own music education in piano and chorus in the state of North Carolina, through programs like the Governor’s School of North Carolina and North Carolina Honors Chorus, the release states.
Sink continues to enjoy teaching and playing the piano, especially as an accompanist. As for singing, she is also a member and past director of Patuxent Voices.
“I am excited for the opening season of the Southern Maryland Youth Choir and can’t wait to start forming relationships and memories through song,” Sink said in the release.
SMYChoir auditions will be held in September. During auditions, according to the choir’s website, students will be asked to come prepared with a song of their choice, which they will sing without accompaniment. Examples listed include “Happy Birthday,” “Jingle Bells,” “My Favorite Things,” among others. The director will lead each singer in a warm-up to gauge the student’s vocal range and ask the student to imitate short musical patterns sung to them to the best of their ability.
Audition dates will be posted online by Aug. 31. Interested musicians should go to www.smychoir.org for updated information.