With New Artistic Director, Berkshire Children’s Chorus Seeks ‘Useful Spaces’ for Local Youth | South Berkshire

SHEFFIELD – Ryan LaBoy became a music teacher, in part because he recognized the role that music teachers have played in his life.

LaBoy described himself as “a very artistic kid in a place where boys were expected to be very boyish,” adding that he did not play a lot of sports as a child in the Valley. the Hudson in New York.

“I kind of fell into a safe space when I joined the choir as a youngster, and found a place where my donations were useful and appreciated by the people I was with,” LaBoy said. . “On top of that, we have to sing along.”

LaBoy, the new artistic director of the Berkshire Children’s Chorus, said he wanted to “pay it forward” by creating “safe and caring spaces, useful spaces” for children in County Berkshire. He comes to the Berkshires of the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he was the founding music director of ComMUSICation, an after-school music program that serves young people in neighborhoods he describes as historically underfunded.

LaBoy holds degrees in choral conducting and music education from the University of Minnesota and Westminster Choir College, respectively, and his expertise is working with young people of diverse backgrounds and experiences, said Alice Maggio, vice-president. Chair of the Board of Directors of Berkshire Children’s Refrain.

The choir, founded in 1990 by Nancy Loder, a music teacher at Mount Everett Regional High School who believed Berkshire children should have more opportunities for music education, has welcomed 35 to 55 children each year for 30 years. said Maggio, herself a choir graduate.

Past ensembles have traveled to perform at New York establishments such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Alice Tully Hall, and the choir receives invitations to several children’s choir festivals, Maggio said.

After a year during which the choir did not sing and a year during which many young people experienced the isolation and stress linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization “is re-engaging” in its mission of ” provide pleasant opportunities for young people.

“Often in a rural location it’s hard for kids to meet, and it’s not like a city, where you can meet people easily,” Maggio said. “We kind of recognize that it’s not just about the music. It’s about the skills you develop through singing and the friendships you can have.

Other goals for the choir are to diversify the types of music that the choir engages in and to form partnerships that broaden the group’s engagement throughout County Berkshire.

The group hopes to start expanding their engagement with three summer events where families can meet LaBoy and the kids can “audition,” which LaBoy says is an informal process for kids to get a feel for LaBoy’s personality and of the set in which they could be integrated.

The plan is to have one set for children in grades four and five and one for students between grades six and nine, Maggio said. The choir offers musical education to children regardless of their ability to pay school fees, added Maggio.

The first event of the summer is a social ice cream, with free ice cream from SoCo Creamery, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on June 26 at Old Parish Church, 125 Main St. in Sheffield.

Danny Jin, a member of the Report for America Corps, is the reporter for The Eagle’s Statehouse. He can be reached at [email protected], @djinreports on Twitter and 413-496-6221.

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