ABOUT OUR CHILDREN'S CHORUSES
Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus
The Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus was formed in 1967 to provide a high-quality choral group for the many orchestral works written for children’s voices, and to offer choral training to school children in the Cleveland area. Today, the Children’s Chorus performs annually with The Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Chorus at Severance Hall. Recent seasons have also seen performances with the Cleveland POPS Orchestra, the Akron Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus. The Children's Chorus is open to singers in grades 6 through 8 via auditions.
Over the decades, the extensive performance history has included such major works as Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Britten’s War Requiem, Berlioz’s Te Deum, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. The children also regularly sing at the University Circle's Holiday CircleFest each December and perform on the Orchestra’s annual Christmas Concerts.
Cleveland Orchestra Children's Preparatory Chorus
The Cleveland Orchestra Children's Preparatory Chorus focuses on establishing a foundation of vocal technique, musical literacy, and musicianship through quality children's choir literature. Members of the Preparatory Chorus have the opportunity to collaborate with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus and Children's Chorus and are provided with initial choral experiences to which younger singers may not normally be exposed. By developing musical skills and performing in public, the children acquire poise, increase self-esteem, and establish a solid foundation in vocal production techniques. The Preparatory Chorus is open to singers in grades 5 through 8 via auditions.
Members of the Preparatory Chorus will strengthen their vocal production and choral performance skills and learn sight-reading using movable “do” solfège and Kodály/Curwen hand signs. Students will also develop leadership skills that will help them strengthen the other choirs in which they participate. A strong majority of Children's Chorus members spend at least one year in the Preparatory Chorus prior to acceptance into the COCC, and Preparatory Chorus members are given first invitation to audition for the Children's Chorus in the spring.
ABOUT OUR DIRECTORS
Director, Children's Choruses
Alexander Looney joined the choral staff in July 2020. He prepares the Children’s Chorus for their appearances as part of the annual Christmas concerts, community concerts, and in the Orchestra’s performances of operas and symphonic works that call for children’s voices.
Mr. Looney is the choral director for Hiland High School/Middle School (East Holmes Local Schools) where he teaches elementary, middle, and high school choral music and co-directs the high school theatre productions. The high school choral program annually performs for OMEA Solo and Ensemble, District, and State Large Group Adjudicated Events. He previously served on the children’s choir staff for Summit Choral Society. He holds active membership in NAfME, OMEA, ACDA, and OCDA, and most recently served as a clinician for the 2020 OMEA Professional Development Conference. Mr. Looney has sung with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Cleveland Orchestra Chamber Chorus, and Blossom Festival Chorus. Mr. Looney holds a bachelor of music in music education from The University of Akron and is currently pursuing a master of music in music education at Capital University.
Director, Children's Preparatory Chorus
Assistant Director, Children's Chorus
Jelani Watkins joined the choral staff in July of 2020. He prepares the Children's Preparatory Chorus for their appearances at annual community concerts and events, and assists the director of Children's Choruses to ensure that the Children's Choruses' program offers a high quality choral experience to its members.
Mr. Watkins is the Director of the Middle School Choral Program at Hawken School. He recently moved to the Cleveland area from Atlanta with his wife after completing his first year of teaching choral and general music at Haynes Bridge Middle School where he was recognized as a finalist for the Teacher of the Year award. Mr. Watkins received his master of music in choral conducting at Georgia State University under the direction of Dr. Deanna Joseph and his bachelor of arts in Music from Morehouse College under the direction of Dr. David Morrow. While working on both degrees, he worked as a conductor and performed as a bass vocalist and accompanying pianist in concerts around the nation, Austria, and Germany. In addition to his work as a musician, Mr. Watkins has coached swimming for over seven years, instructing hundreds of swimmers from several different aquatic programs. Currently, he coaches for the Shaker Sharks Swim Team and sings as a bass ensemble member with the Cleveland Chamber Choir.