Children’s Choir History
The Platteville Children’s Choir was established in 1989 to provide the children of southwest Wisconsin with an opportunity to be involved in the excitement of making beautiful music together. It began with the vision of Dr. Gerald Darrow, Choral Director in the Music Department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and the members of the Platteville Chorale which he directed. The first singers were 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students from the community. Currently there are over 115 children singing in three choirs who come from over 18 different communities in the area.
The Platteville Children’s Choir rehearses and performs mainly during the academic year. It regularly presents concerts in the fall and spring, and performs at a variety of other events. The fall concert is traditionally held in the wonderful Brodbeck Concert Hall in the Center for the Arts on the UWP campus in conjunction with the Platteville Chorale, its parent organization. The spring concert is a time of celebration as the season is completed.
Other events in which the Platteville Children’s Choir performs annually include the December Holiday Gala with the music department of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the annual tree lighting at the Rollo Jamison Museum in Platteville. Each year, in late spring, the choir makes a day-long tour giving a thirty minute concert at either four or five elementary and middle schools in Southwest Wisconsin. This is an especially fun time because the singers often get to perform for their friends at their home school.
In 2005, each of the choirs was privileged to perform outside of our area. The Cantabile Choir took a weekend tour to Minnesota in May where they gave two evening concerts in conjunction with children’s choirs in Bloomington and Northfield. They also performed at a school and a church in Northfield. In January, the Choristers did an overnight trip to Appleton, Wisconsin where they sang at the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association’s Annual Convention. This was a real honor. The Apprentice Singers participated in the Annual St. Luke’s Children’s Choir Fest in Dubuque, Iowa, in April.
The Platteville Children’s Choir exists to provide the children of Southwest Wisconsin with an opportunity to participate in a high-quality choral music program which includes education and performance. The Platteville Children’s Choir is not intended to replace a child’s participation in his or her school music program, rather it should enhance and add to his or her enjoyment of music. All singers in the Platteville Children’s Choir are encouraged to join their school’s choir.
The Platteville Children’s Choir is officially an operation of The Platteville Chorale, Inc., and is governed by the bylaws of that organization.
The Platteville Children’s Choir was established in 1989 by the Platteville Chorale. The Platteville Chorale is a community chorus initiated in 1975 by Dr. Darrow, the Choral Director in the Music Department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville at that time. He and the Officers of the Chorale saw the need and the opportunity to begin something great for the community. The Platteville Children’s Choir is officially an operation of The Platteville Chorale, Inc. and is governed by the Bylaws of that organization.
The first director of the choir was Judy Thorpe, an elementary music teacher in the Platteville School District. She, with Kristi Hart as the accompanist, directed the choir for the first four years of its existence. The choir was composed of about sixty 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students from the area. Their first concert was in the fall of 1989. In the fall of 1993, Vicki Brookens, a vocal music teacher in the Highland School District, became the director of the choir. She also directed the choir for four seasons, through the spring of 1997. Kristi Hart and Terry Ellis accompanied the choir though these years. The choir of about sixty singers was invited to sing at the Wisconsin Chorale Directors Association Annual Convention in Eau Claire on January 20, 1996.
Dr. Christina Shields, Music Educator in the Music Department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, became the Director of the Platteville Children’s choir in 1997 and administered the program for three years. She gave the program a new vision which resulted in an expansion to three choirs with singers from grades two though eight in 1998. A relationship between the Music Education Program of the University and the Platteville Children’s Choir was formed, and now music education majors regularly serve as student interns with the choir.
Marcia Russell joined the choir as an assistant director in the spring of 1998. She was the vocal music teacher and choral director at the Platteville High School at the time. She became a director in the fall of 1998 and has since become the vocal music teacher in the Platteville Middle School. In the fall of 1998, Luanne Rogers, the vocal music teacher in the Platteville Middle School at the time, became the director of the Apprentice Singers. Ms. Russell and Mrs. Rogers have been an integral part of the Platteville Children’s Choir and continue with the program to date. Dwight Klaassen, who became president of The Platteville Chorale, Inc., in 1994 and Executive Administrator of the Platteville Children’s Choir in 2000, continues to serve in that capacity. Others who are either currently serving or who have served for a number of years include Terri Ellis, accompanist since 1994; Heidi Johnson, accompanist from 2001 to 2003 and director since 2003; Kathy Wagner, accompanist since 2001; and Bev Mattingly, accompanist since 2004.
The program has clearly undergone changes through the years, but the original mission has remained strong. The three choirs have had a number of name changes, but there have been caring, consistent, long-serving personnel with excellent musical experience and ability which have given the program consistency. Many are still serving today.