Schola Cantorum hosts an Open House to Re-launch its High School Choral Ensemble

Phoenix Singers’ education initiative reflects Schola’s commitment to nurturing youth through the arts

James Splond, Director/Conductor of the Phoenix Singers; Jennese Jackson, Phoenix Singer; Deborah Simpkin King, Ph.D., Founding Director of Schola Cantorum on Hudson, the home of the Ember Ensemble, the Phoenix Singers and PROJECT : ENCORE; Julissa Bravo, Phoenix Singer.
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James Splond, Director/Conductor of the Phoenix Singers; Jennese Jackson, Phoenix Singer; Deborah Simpkin King, Ph.D., Founding Director of Schola Cantorum on Hudson, the home of the Ember Ensemble, the Phoenix Singers and PROJECT : ENCORE; Julissa Bravo, Phoenix Singer.

Schola Cantorum on Hudson (Schola), the nonprofit choral arts organization that’s comprised of performance, education and advocacy components, will hold an open house for its newly relaunched high school-aged choral ensemble (grades 8-12), the Phoenix Singers.

The information session will take place in Jersey City on Wednesday, Jan.22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Powerhouse Arts District, 411 Monmouth St., where the Phoenix Singers will rehearse.

Interested students and their families from throughout Hudson County, music teachers and school administrators who want to learn more about the Phoenix Education Program and auditioning to become a Phoenix Singer are invited to attend the free event, which is open to the public.

The evening will begin with a meet and greet with the directors, some Ember mentors and some Phoenix participants from the fall concert, and will be followed by brief presentations by James Splond, the Music Director of the Phoenix Singers and Deborah Simpkin King, Ph.D., founding director of Schola, which sponsors Phoenix as part of its education initiative.  A Q & A session will follow.

With the relaunch of the Phoenix Singers, Schola has expanded its musical offerings in New Jersey’s Hudson County. It will provide young vocalists with an exciting and challenging choral performance experience, music and vocal training for a lifetime of musical involvement, whether avocational or professional, and the opportunity to develop transferable leadership skills.

“Our goal is to create an environment where aspiring young artists can have a meaningful experience and improve their skills so they feel confident participating in any choir or other musical opportunity that comes their way,” says Splond, who is also the Vocal Music Director for the Snyder campus of JC ARTS.

The Phoenix program was beta tested in 2011-12, following the results of a feasibility study that clarified the need for such a program in Hudson County and the surrounding communities. The program emerged at the request of parents and local music educators who recognized it as a valuable asset in the lives of the young singers involved and their families.

Despite its being well received by the public, lack of funds prohibited continuation of the program beyond the initial beta season. Now, with the acquirement of new funding, and a modest family contribution toward tuition, the program is again accepting student singers.

Applications for the Phoenix Singers will be received on a rolling basis during this first season, with additional students being worked in at times when new concert material is coming into rehearsal.  Accepted students become part of an ensemble that meets once weekly after school in the Powerhouse Arts District for rehearsals and music education. Schola’s staff provides leadership training, music theory study and training in vocal technique, in addition to specific preparation for concert appearances.

Under the artistic leadership of Schola’s Founding Director, Deborah Simpkin King, Ph.D., the Phoenix performance activity will include periodic concert collaboration with its sister chorus the Ember ensemble (Schola’s semi-pro choral ensemble), thereby providing a professional-level experience for the Phoenix Singers. As the students grow their skills and the ensemble matures, additional performance opportunities may become part of the Phoenix Singers’ season.

“Schola has a well-established presence in both NYC and New Jersey and we expect the Phoenix Singers to grow and become the centerpiece of our education initiative,” says Dr. King. “The program is all about making a positive difference in young lives, through skill development, guided leadership training, and meaningful experiences through the arts.  We are excited about the opportunity to enhance these young lives through the unique expression that only the arts can provide.”

Students who are interested in auditioning for Phoenix Singers can visit the website for more information and to fill out a form indicating interest.