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‘One Voice’ unites kids’ singing talents; Instructors planning children’s chorus at BDACT

November 27, 2018

Music instructors Judy Heffron and Darby Hintz are forming a new children's chorus for area children in grades 3-5. One Voice will be based in the new Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre Fine Arts Center at 117 W. Maple Ave. It will be open to children throughout the area, and is not limited to any area school or district.

Area children in grades 3-5 will have a new opportunity to share their singing talents in 2019 as “One Voice,” when the Children’s Chorus of Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre is launched.

Retired educators Judy Heffron and Darby Hintz are behind the concept.

“Everybody has his or her own voice — a good strong voice,” Heffron said. “They’re coming from many different schools and different communities and creating a lot of strength and power. Everyone who is involved is important, and we’ll work to form ‘one voice’ together.”

Both she and Hintz are also looking forward to having a lot of fun.

“When you teach elementary music especially, there’s a lot of fun in it, and you get a lot back,” Heffron said. “I’ve missed the group experience with the kids since retirement. There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm.”

“And I’m eager to be working with Judy again,” Hintz said. “That’s going to be fun as well.”

Both women had long careers teaching singers in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“It was numerous schools and hundreds and hundreds of children,” Hintz said. “We’ve got more than 70 years of combined experience directing children’s choruses. Both of us have extensive backgrounds in knowing how to teach kids how to read music, to perform better and to sing better. That’s what we did as licensed teachers, and what we’ll be doing as the directors of this group.”

Both women serve as co-directors, while Heffron is the group’s coordinator and Hintz is the accompanist.

Former Beaver Dam Principal Jeff Rehberg is also involved in helping get the group organized.

The difference between what they did in schools and what they are hoping to do with One Voice is that the new group is open to the entire community.

“We can get kids from the parochial schools and beyond. Home-schooled kids are welcome as well,” Hintz said.

“We’re expecting to get kids from around the entire area — from Fox Lake and Juneau, from Mayville and Horicon,” Heffron said. “We often have talent from Sun Prairie and beyond for our plays and they’re also welcome to join us.”

According to Heffron, generations of vocal music teachers have talked about forming a community chorus in the past, but nothing has ever come of it. The difficulty was finding a location. The partnership with BDACT, however, is filling that need.

“You have to have a good, central place where kids are safe, which is what we have in the new BDACT Fine Arts Center,” Heffron said

Beaver Dam Are Community Theatre has been in existence since 1964. Members have been working since then to develop a premier performance space — one with every amenity, including handicapped access. They first began in a movie theater, then moved into a former church, and are now renovating a former school building with an investment of $2.9 million. The new BDACT Fine Arts Center at 117 W. Maple Ave. is expected to host an open house and grand opening on Dec. 29.

The building’s small theater is to be the home of One Voice, although it will be utilized by a number of groups for several different purposes. Combining performances of many varieties is the key to keeping the building in steady use, which will be a necessity to keep the organization financially viable, organizers have said.

“They were looking to offer something in addition to the plays,” Heffron said. “It is still first and foremost a place for plays and musicals, but things such as ours will make it more of a performing arts center. That’s the ultimate goal.”

The difference between a school concert and a One Voice concert will be significant.

“Ours is definitely a performance group, meant to entertain the audience,” Heffron said. “In our school, even when we were in concert, we were showing what we were working on. So we’d have the recorder group or a single grade with songs were learning to sing.”

“And some of our kids, even if they didn’t enjoy singing, came to the concert,” Hintz said. “This is more for the kids who love it, who enjoy singing and love to do it.”

“It’s another musical opportunity,” Heffron said. “It’s for everybody who wants to sing, and yes, it could allow someone with talent to really shine if he or she wants to.”

An acoustic piano is the main accompaniment, although other instruments are a possibility.

“There will be a wide variety of music,” Heffron said. “We have some popular music, and some cultural music. There will be something for every taste.”

Other concerts and performances will be planned for the holidays and around the community.

There are rules of conduct for those who join, and a rehearsal schedule that children must commit to attend. One-hour rehearsals will be held Sunday evenings at 5 p.m. from Jan. 27 through March 17, except for March 3, when an informal preview concert will be held at 6:30 p.m. Weekly rehearsals will resume April 7 through May 5, except for April 21. The grand finale concert will be held May 10 at 7 p.m.

The organizers are hoping to get between 30 and 50 students — perhaps more.

Both directors hope that as time goes on, more age groups will be added.

“We used to have the Beaver Dam Oratorio Society for adults, and maybe our group will spawn groups of other ages,” Heffron said. “I know the theater organizers are looking forward to having other opportunities in place.”

“This is just the beginning for the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre Fine Arts Center,” Hintz said. “We just picked third, fourth and fifth grades because we’ve worked with them before. We’re just hopeful that parents of kids who love to sing will encourage them to join us in our group — One Voice.”

Registration meetings will be held Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. or Dec. 9 at 4:30 p.m. in the old BDACT building, 219 N. Spring St. A parent or guardian must accompany each child. A $40 fee will be collected at registration.

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