AboutMore information about the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus
Founded in 1993 by Artistic Director, Barbara C. Beattie, the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of children and youth through music education and performance experiences for over 20 years. The WSYC began as the Stevens Center Children’s Chorus, with children age eight to 13 making up the membership. The group continued to evolve, growing in size and stature, and it became the Winston-Salem Children’s Chorus in 1997. Thanks to strong community support and interest, along with the passion and efforts of Barbara Beattie, the WSCC added high school youth in the Young Women’s and Young Men’s Ensembles. In 2009 the WSCC renamed itself the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus, to reflect the diversity in membership and age ranges, as well as the mature sound and professional quality of the group. In June 2015 Barbara retired and passed her baton on to Dr. Sonja Sepulveda as Artistic Director. Sonja brings a vast array of musical expertise to the position and is frequently asked to guest conduct in other cities and countries. The WSYC has over 100 members in four ensembles, ranging in age from eight to 18 and representing more than 40 schools in Forsyth and surrounding counties. Open to any child who passes a standard audition, WSYC singers learn proper vocal technique, music theory, performance and sight-singing skills, music culture, and songs in other languages. The WSYC brings together children from a variety of backgrounds to learn teamwork and tolerance while building lasting friendships based on the universal language of music.
The Winston-Salem Youth Chorus is dedicated to educating the talented and diverse youth of our community in music and choral skills while offering them abundant opportunities to share their talents locally and beyond. We offer a wide range of programs throughout the year to suit the learning needs and interests of every student. Our members learn music theory, sight reading, proper vocal technique, choral style, and music in many languages within its unique cultural perspective.
The WSYC is known as the preeminent youth chorus within our city and our region. We enjoy frequent concert collaborations with local and regional arts organizations such as the UNCSA Cantata Singers, Piedmont Wind Symphony, Piedmont Opera, Fletcher Opera, Piedmont Chamber Singers and the Winston-Salem Symphony. The WSYC has also participated in several prestigious music festivals and events, including: The Vienna Choral Music Festival in Vienna, Austria (June 2016), the Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans (June 2015), the Paris Choral Festival (2013), the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival (July 2010), the Windy City Youth Choral Festival in Chicago’s Historic Orchestra Hall under the direction of Francisco Nuñéz (June 2010), the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina (May 2008 and May 2002), the Shenandoah Arts Conservatory Youth Choral Festival (March 2008), a ten-day concert tour of Italy with the Pueri Cantores & the Garabaldi Theatre Chorus (June 2007), the Magnolia Baroque Festival in Winston-Salem (June 2006), the premiere recording session with Old Salem’s Tannenberg Organ on the world-famous Raven Compact Discs label (March 2006), the International Music Festival in Salzburg, Austria (July 2004), the Second Children’s Choirs Festival in Winchester, Virginia (March 2000), and the North Carolina School of the Arts and Salem College 25th Annual Summer Organ Academy (June 1999). These optional tours give our singers an opportunity to gain additional musical and cultural experiences.
The four core ensembles of the WSYC are:
- Residential Chorus: for boys and girls in grades 3-5, non-touring. Rehearses Thursdays, 5:00-5:45pm
- Touring Chorus: for boys and girls in grades 4-8 who have the necessary musical experience/skill, touring. Rehearses Mondays 5:30-6:30pm and Thursdays 5:30-6:30pm
- Young Women’s Ensemble: for girls in grades 9-12. Rehearses Thursdays 7:15-8:45 pm
- Young Men’s Ensemble: for boys with changed voices. Rehearses Thursdays 6:30-8:00pm
Rehearsals take place at Parkway United Church of Christ (located at 2151 Silas Creek Parkway Drive in Winston-Salem).
A student’s acceptance and ensemble assignment are based on his or her age, vocal ability, and musical experience. A love of singing and enthusiasm for music are the most important requirements. All chorus members are reevaluated annually to assess their progress and determine their readiness for promotion to more advanced ensembles.
Additional programs offered by the WSYC:
Fall Forward and Spring Forward: This low cost program is an introduction to choral music and offers children the chance to perform with the main WSYC ensembles in the Winter Celebration Concert or Spring Choral Concert. The program is generally a five-week session of 45-minute rehearsals per week. One session is offered in the fall for boys and girls in grades 3-5, and one in the spring for boys and girls in grades 2-4. No audition is required.
Please contact (336) 703-0001 for more information about these programs.
Choral & Music Festivals
The WSYC has participated in many prestigious music festivals, such as:
- The Vienna Choral Music Festival in Vienna, Austria (June 2016)
- The Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans under the direction of Cheryl Dupont and Bob Chilcott from England. (June 2015)
- The Paris Choral Festival in Paris, France under the direction of Dr. Andre Thomas (July 2013)
- The Wintergreen Summer Music Festival in Wintergreen, Virginia (July 2011)
- The Windy City Youth Choral Festival in Chicago under the direction of Francisco Nuñez (June 23-27, 2010)
- The Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina (May 2008, May 2002)
- The Shenandoah Conservatory Youth Choral Festival in Winchester, Virginia (March 2008)
- The Magnolia Baroque Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (June 2006)
- The International Music Festival in Salzburg, Austria (July 2004)
- The Second Mid-Winter Children’s Choir Festival at Carnegie Hall (February 2001)
- The Massed Children’s Choirs Festival in Winchester, Virginia (March 2000), and
- The North Carolina School of the Arts and Salem College 25th Annual Summer Organ Academy (June 1999).
Our members are frequently invited to perform with regional arts groups and professional musicians. Past collaborations include holiday concerts with the Winston-Salem Symphony, performances with the Nutcracker with UNCSA, three concerts with the Piedmont Wind Symphony (including one with Neil Sedaka and one with Paul Anka), performances with the Carolina Chamber Symphony, collaboration with the Salisbury Symphony with their performance of “Carmina Burana”, a performance of Handel’s Corronation Anthems with the UNCSA Cantata Singers directed by Jamie Allbritten, Turandot and Hansel & Gretel with Piedmont Opera, Lenny’s Spiritual Side and John Williams Returns concerts with the Winston-Salem Symphony, John Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the Piedmont Chamber Singers, Voices United with the Winston-Salem State University Choirs directed by D’Walla Burke and several major musical works with Salem College Choirs.
Travel & Tours
Members of the WSYC traveled June 16-26, 2016 to Vienna, Austria to sing with several adult choruses as a part of the Vienna Choral Music Festival. They performed Vivaldi’s “Magnificat”, Shubert’s “Mass in G”, Haydn’s “Te Deum”, Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasia” and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” under the direction of several renown guest conductors. Singers performed in St. Peter’s Church and Schubert’s church, in addition to visiting Salzburg and other historic sites.
On July 1-8, 2013, 34 WSYC singers traveled to France to participate in the Paris Choral Festival, under the direction of Dr. André Thomas. Featured in the concert were Fauré’s “Requiem”, Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms”, and two spiritual arrangements by André Thomas himself. In addition to this collaborative concert, WSYC performed a concert by themselves in Caen. The tour also included visits of historic places in France, including the Rouen Cathedral, the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, the Latin Quarter, the Louvre, and many more places.
WSYC trips are planned on an alternating cycle. One year the Touring Chorus and members of the Young Women’s & Men’s Ensembles embark on an international tour (generally 8-12 days). The next year a regional/national tour is taken (generally 4-5 days).
Past international tours have included Austria (2016), France (2013), Italy (2007) and Austria (2004).