With a song in their hearts, girls chorus pleases year round

By Melissa Hirschl

Filling the crisp winter air with classical, holiday and Broadway tunes, Girls Chorus of the Valley are performing heart-warming tunes around the Valley this season, and all year long. 

Located within Desert Cross Lutheran Church in Tempe, the cadre is a subset of Valley Academy of Music and Arts, otherwise known as Artsykids.org. 

Even though the academy offers programs in Phoenix and Scottsdale, the Tempe location is the only one housing a chorus.

The group, currently comprised of 11 girls, is an auditioned choral program for girls ages 7 to 13 who have a penchant for singing and are eager to expand their musical talents. 

According to organizers, rehearsals are geared to instilling a lifelong love of music, while teaching vocal technique, music theory, performance skills and teamwork in a fun environment. 

An extra perk for the girls is that they can partake in guitar, voice, piano and violin lessons as well as the chorus. Plus, an art class is on tap for spring.

According to director Tia Coates, the chorus combines learning simple and sophisticated musical concepts with fun.

“This year’s programs have even integrated some choral literature in Latin, German and French to further the educational field. We strive to have fun, sing great music, and be involved in the community, while laying a foundation for continuing musical excellence.” 

Dawn Bulriss, mother of one of the performers, believes the program gives girls an extra edge they might not ordinarily have.

“I’ve talked to mothers of kids in Corona, and they all agree that if you don’t have some kind of musical background, it is very difficult to get into the higher level choirs,” she says.

According to Bulriss, the girls are challenged to learn and perform (with multi-part harmony from memory), a wide range of quality music, including foreign language pieces from a variety of musical heritages and cultures.

“It is amazing,” she says, “how quickly these girls learn difficult music and yet sing so beautifully together. I had struggled to find an outlet for my daughter’s desire to perform, without having to drive to the other side of the Valley. 

“The education and experience that she is getting here will be essential in her ability to compete with limited space availability at the high school level and beyond.”

The songbirds performed their repertoire at the Oktoberfest, held at Tempe Town Lake this fall, and also at a Sister Cities-sponsored cultural event.

Last year they performed at the Ethan Allen Christmas party. This year they participated in a Christmas recital and a teacher’s recital in the spring. 

“My daughter Michelle, who is a fourth grader at Rover School, has a much stronger feeling of music as a whole due to this chorus,” says Bulriss. 

If you know of a young lady who could derive similar benefits from being in the chorus, the group is currently seeking girls to audition for the upcoming abbreviated musical, Dear Edwina, Jr. that will be performed April 23 and 30 at the Desert Cross Community Center.

“Girls Chorus is an outstanding opportunity for girls who love to sing,” says Karen Stache, executive director. 

No experience is required, and it doesn’t take long for the shy beginner to blossom into a confident singer and performer, according to Stache.
Weekly classes run 4:30-5:45 pm, and the cost of chorus class is $129 for eight weeks. 

Music lessons are $159 for eight weeks. Classes can be started any time and rates will be pro-rated. Classes run during school; summer day camps offering music, drama and art are also available. 

Space is still available for girls who might like to audition and be part of this wonderful experience. 

For additional information, go to www.artsykids.org or call (480) 348-2787.