ICC Magazine - Page 3

Letter from Henry Leck, Founder of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir I n 1986, I visited the Chicago Children’s Choir in Hyde Park and was astounded by what I saw. Not only was the choir’s musical quality excellent, but many of the students were impoverished and were using the choir as a vehicle for escaping their poverty at home. It occurred to me when I returned home that Indianapolis needed something similar. We had school choirs and church choirs, but there was a perceived need for a program that would draw together children from all racial, social, religious and economic backgrounds, across the city. That year, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir was born. I never could have imagined the impact that the choir would have—it’s been one grand adventure with the choir leading the way. Moving moments and memories fill the three decades. In 1994, when children’s choirs weren’t well recognized, the ICC sang for the American Choral Directors Association in San Antonio. When we finished, we received a 13-minute standing ovation from the audience. Even to this day, I meet directors who tell me that they remember that performance and who were inspired to become children’s choral directors. One of the first times we performed at the Vatican, we sang for Pope John Paul II, who was Polish. We had heard that he had a favorite Polish folk song, and learned it to perform for him. He was moved by it and came over to bless the singers afterwards. What astonishes me the most is not the quality of music or the quantity of students, but how life-changing and monumental an experience it has been for so many thousands of kids. We hear from alumni frequently who keep in contact, invite us to their weddings, and keep choir memorabilia for decades. One alumnus has told me that he couldn’t believe that he had experienced more at 16 than many experience in a lifetime. Over the last 30 years, the choir has grown dramatically, from 150 students to over 3,000. What has not changed in that time, and has made the choir so successful, is the consistent quality of teaching. Our instructors are wonderful; most are Kodaly certified and believe in sequential learning. We have a strong belief that the way we treat kids is with a positive attitude, joy, and respect. That’s what draws kids back—they make friends and want to come back season after season to learn and to have fun. My wish is that the ICC will continue to thrive forever, and that it will continue to include children of all backgrounds, create great music, and create experiences that kids will remember long after the last note of the final performance has been sung. 1986 Henry Leck Indianapolis Children’s Choir is founded by Henry Leck; holds first Choral Festival with 150 singers 3