“And God Created Music!” was the theme the of event, and that’s exactly what happened during the recent Children’s Choir Festival held at St. John’s Lutheran Church.
The festival brought about 35 children and 21 directors together from throughout Rowan County, Mooresville, Albemarle and Gastonia.
Karol Kinard Kimmell, director of youth and children’s music at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta, served as the clinician.
As a high-school student, Kimmell was an active member of the St. John’s music program.
Directors met with Kimmell last Friday evening, with the children participating in a daylong workshop Saturday.
The festival was part of the church’s Year of the Arts celebration, and the first event aimed at youth, said Rosemary Kinard, associate parish musician. Kinard also served as pianist for the two-day event.
“I could see the faces of the children and the directors, and they were in the palm of Karol’s hand,” she said. “It was just so wonderful to watch.”
About two dozen church members served as volunteers, helping out with everything from decorating to serving snacks and meals.
“They were just amazing,” Kinard said. “They took a lot of ownership of this event.”
Kinard was especially pleased with youth group volunteers Georgia Kirchin, Hannah Addair, Callie Kirchin, Grace Faller and Bethanie Stauffer, who served as the younger children’s buddies Saturday.
“I was just so taken with the way they interacted with the children,” Kinard said.
Last Friday, Kimmell and the directors discussed music theory and practical advice for working with children. The directors saw those tips put into practice the next day.
“Some children’s choir directors are not professional musicians, but dedicated volunteers,” Kinard said. “They are thrilled to get any help they can.”
Carol Everhart, who serves as director for St. John’s Crusader Choir, said the festival was a “really wonderful event.”
“For the directors, we got very practical ideas anybody can use,” she said. “And then Saturday, we got to see Karol in action and working with the kids.”
Everhart said the directors received a packet of music that covered all liturgical seasons of the church year, as well as the music Kimmell used with the children.
Phillip Burgess, organist and choirmaster at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, was impressed by the event, which was just a block from his church.
“I usually have to travel a great distance to go to an event that was so well organized,” he said. “The clinician was just spot-on; it was a perfect event.”
Kimmell said the festival was a great experience for her as well.
“The children were so sweet and eager to learn,” she said. “I was impressed with the organization and broad support from the congregation, and I was very pleased with the number of directors who came. It shows a need for this kind of resource.”
Kimmell is a co-director of the national Choristers Guild Institute. Next summer, the group will stage an institute at Wingate University.
The children’s choir directors who came to Salisbury said they hoped the event would be repeated next year.
Kimmell said the church was an ideal central location.
“It was a real joy to be back at St. John’s,” she said. “The church opened its arms and its doors.”
Susan Shinn is communications assistant for St. John’s Lutheran Church.