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
Interim Director, Children's Choruses
Jelani Watkins 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.
Jelani Watkins is the Department Chair for Performing Arts (PS-12) at Hawken School, where he teaches middle school chorus, electives in vocal performance and music production, and 4th-5th grade instrumental music. In 2018, he 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. Jelani 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, Jelani has coached swimming for over seven years, instructing hundreds of swimmers from several different aquatic programs. Currently, he is the Head Age Group Coach for the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins swim team and sings as a bass ensemble member with the Cleveland Chamber Choir.
Director, Children's Preparatory Chorus
Assistant Director, Children's Chorus
Jennifer Rozsa joined the choral staff in Summer of 2021. She prepares the Children's Preparatory Chorus 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.
Jennifer Rozsa earned her master's and bachelor's degrees in music education with an emphasis in the Kodály Philosophy from Capital University's Conservatory of Music in Columbus, Ohio, and her Orff-Shulwerk certification from the San Francisco Orff Course. She currently teaches K-4 general music in Solon. Previously, Jennifer taught K-8 general music and choir in public, private, and charter schools in Ohio, California, and Chicago. While living in the Bay Area. she conducted training choruses for the Peninsula Girls Chorus and San Francisco Boys Chorus. Jennifer has presented general music sessions at OMEA and at the Greater Cleveland Orff Chapter workshops. When not teaching, Jennifer performs as a mezzo-soprano, sings with choirs, and enjoys dancing, biking, and being with her husband, 2 daughters, and dog.