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Children’s Choir Ready To Sing—In Five Languages

Carla Eckels

Forty-one students from schools in Wichita and around Kansas have been sharpening their vocal skills as part of a week-long camp at Wichita State University.

It’s the eighth year for WSU’s Kodaly Children’s Choir camp that teaches youth music and vocal training.

Elaine Quilichini is the conductor and artistic director for the children’s choir. Quilichini is also the founder and artistic director of the Calgary Girls Choir in Canada. She is in demand as a clinician, lecturer, adjudicator and guest conductor across Canada, the United States, Brazil, Europe and Australia.

Quilichini got involved in WSU's Kodaly camp after participating in a similar summer program at Nebraska Wesleyan University. She connected with Kirk Olson, who launched the Kodaly programs nine years ago at Wichita State.

The programs are named after Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly, who believed in instilling a thirst for finer music in schoolchildren. Throughout the week, students are involved in intensive choral rehearsals and fun recreational activities.

Quilichini has been a part of the camp since its inception. She says the children experience lots of singing and are empowered to learn the music.

“It’s not monkey see, monkey do, it’s you learn this music and understanding the music and they love that,” Quilichini says. “It’s also really vocal training, it’s very much about singing lessons and how can they use their voice freely and how can they get the most from their voice.”

Quilichini compares vocal music preparation to an athlete in training. She tells her students true singing is a physical act. “Many people think that it’s being intellectual, or emotional, or expressive, but to truly sing well is extremely physical,” she says. “One of the first things that I talk to them about is the importance of sleep and water and good nutrition, and I outlaw soda pop and greasy burgers.”

Quilichini says she is passionate about the quality of the music that’s presented to children and works diligently to pick music that will challenge and inspire them. “This year we have Bach duet, a Vivaldi duet, we have folk songs, arts songs. We’re singing in five different languages. We’ll be singing in Hebrew, Latin, French, German and English, and they will have everything memorized within five days.”

Wichita State's Kodaly Children's Choir Camp and WSU Kodaly Certification Program instructors will perform "Voices in Accord," at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, in Wiedemann Hall.