Mechanics Hall Youth Choir to debut at Founders Day celebration

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When the call began to go out for fifth and sixth graders to join Many Voices: Mechanics Hall Youth Singers in Worcester, the response was something to sing about.

Enrollment is “up more than 70,” said Reagan G. Pars, artistic director of the new choir.

It’s not just a lot of new voices, “It’s awesome,” he said.

Many Voices will make their concert debut at 4 p.m. on October 16 during the Mechanics Hall Founder’s Day celebration at Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St. The young singers, accompanied by a small orchestra, will perform the South African song “Remember Me, Forget Me Not” (also known as “Think of Me, Forget Me Not”)”, and arrangements of Sia’s “Unstoppable” and Ben E. King’s classic “Stand By Me”.

The choir is a new initiative by Mechanics Hall offering young people in Worcester a no-cost, no-audition choral opportunity with transport provided for rehearsals as well as a t-shirt.

Fifth and sixth graders from across the city will develop new skills and gain performance experience at one of the most prestigious concert halls in the country.

Singing legends such as Leontyne Price and Ella Fitzgerald have performed on stage at Mechanics Hall. Now the Many Voices: Mechanics Hall Singers will follow in their footsteps and perform on the same stage as well.

“Just imagine being a kid walking into Mechanics Hall and saying, ‘I’m going to play over there,'” Paras said. “It’s powerful. It’s a space that can capture their hopes and dreams, it’s so powerful.”

“Mechanics Hall has resonated with the sounds of some of the world’s greatest musicians throughout its 165 years,” said Kathleen M. Gagne, Executive Director of Mechanics Hall. “It is only fitting that the youth of our own city – the heart and soul of our community – should be included in this distinguished list of performers. We look forward to hearing their young voices fill the Great Hall. October 16.”

Paras is director of music education and choral activities for Anna Maria College and is a conductor, singer, and educator who has led performance tours across the United States and abroad. The Managing Director of Many Voices is Christon Carney, who serves as education and outreach coordinator for Mechanics Hall and performs with the Boston Lyric Opera.

Discussions about forming Many Voices began two and a half years ago, Paras said.

“We saw a great need to empower the young people of Worcester. There needs to be a set that authentically and accurately represents the beautiful mosaic of cultures that is Worcester. need. This is an age where there is a slight decline in participation in music. It is essential that we offer programs like this. It is important that students recognize that this stage is theirs, ” Paras said.

The pandemic delayed the launch, but “gave us a chance to recalibrate our mission and the power that music can have,” Paras said. “Chris Carney and I put together a directory, put together the manuals.”

The musical goal of Many Voices is to present music from around the world – contemporary and classical – selected with consideration for the cultures and music of the participants in the choir. The free program gives kids from all walks of life the opportunity to perform at Mechanics Hall, their very own “home” concert venue. Any fifth or sixth year student living in Worcester or attending a school in Worcester can participate. Contact Mechanics Hall at (508) 752-5608 to learn more.

Paras, Carney and a team of volunteers came out and spread the word and handed out flyers. “It was a grassroots effort,” Paras said.

“We felt like the Founder’s Day performance was the perfect start to performance day for our choir.”

There will be three rehearsals before the October 16 performance. Between 60 and 70 children participated in the first rehearsal.

“We know this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Paras said.

Rehearsals are held at the Worcester Area Mission Society at 6 Institute Road and Mechanics Hall.

The singers have access to performers and educators and will be joined on stage by six college musicians who form an orchestra “like a symphonic rock ensemble,” Paras said.

The next concert will likely take place in the spring and will be related to reading literacy “and celebrating the many cultures that make up the choir,” Paras said.

However, he will also be keeping an ear out for how the October 16 performance is going.

“That will guide us in our preparation,” Paras said. “We are only scratching the surface. I think the mission is great and the vision is wonderful.”

Mechanics Hall’s Founders’ Day celebration will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on October 16 and will also include a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. to honor the Ciborowski family, who generously supported Mechanics Hall for many years. many years, including recent renovations to the main lobby. From 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the public is invited to take part in the following 20-minute thematic tours of the building: “Art at Mechanics Hall”, “A Look at the Mechanics Hall Architecture”, “The History of Mechanics Hall”, “Who Were the Worcester Mechanics” and “The Worcester ‘Hook’ Organ”. At 4 p.m., the first performance of Many Voices will take place in the Great Hall. Admission to the Founders’ Day event is free; donations will be accepted. For more information, visit www.mechanicshall.org.

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