For us the highlight of the strings-and-piano program that brings 275 students and their families to our community for the VSSM has nothing to do with strings or piano. It's the choral option, and in particular the brilliant choral director.
My older three kids participated in Allison's Nelson Youth Choir program for a couple of years at least, before the choir's realignment and our scheduling shifts forced us to part ways during the regular academic year. But then she was hired to take over the choral enrichment option at the VSSM, and it was a joyful reunion for my kids. There are two choirs that rehearse each day throughout the 5-day workshop week. Erin prefers the Adult Choir which mets around supper time and includes many adult community members, senior piano students and interested parents. The singing in the Adult Choir is mostly from written music and is traditional four-part SATB choral singing. The younger three kids and I enjoy the Family Choir together every day. This includes children from the community and the music school of a variety of ages, from 2 to mid-teens, plus any interested parents. The singing here is all by rote, with some unison, but lots of rounds and descant parts too. Many of these people have never sung in a choir before. The photo shows only about a third of the choir members; we numbered a little over fifty.
There is such joy and respect in what she does. I am left in awe again and again at her incredible ability to teach, model, express ideas and manage solo and ensemble assignments in ways that leave everyone feeling important and valued. The sight and sound of little mouths and large mouths opened together in harmonic expression after five short rehearsals never fails to make me weepy. The mp3 clip embedded here is the end of an English / Latin arrangement of the well-known canon "Dona Nobis Pacem."