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Look, Listen, and Sing Along! Children's Choir Performs Spring Concert
April 16, 2011 • Lazarus Saturday Spring Concert • By Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
On Lazarus Saturday afternoon, ten children from our seminary community, led by their director, Danielle Miller, offered a superb Spring Concert on our campus. His Grace The Right Rev. Michael, bishop of the New York and New Jersey Diocese of the OCA, enjoyed a front row view of the performance, which included selections ranging from Byzantine chant to classical music by Handel and Vivaldi to contemporary pieces, such as "Siyahamba," a South African freedom song.
First-year seminarian Ashley Lear acted as assistant director for the group, and first-year seminarian Harrison Russin acted as their accompanist. Children comprising the choir include: Colin, Hannah, and Mary Katherine Barberg; Rufus Behr; Alex, Asher, and Judah Bozeman; Sophia Dooley; and Sofia and Stella Miller. Following the concert, each student received a certificate from Mrs. Miller, in recognition of their hard work.
The St. Vladimir's Seminary Children’s Choir is in its second year and rehearses once per week after school during the academic year. This year’s choir has equal numbers of boys and girls ages 8–13, who all sing in the treble range. The children work on voice training, sight-singing, and musicianship using Dalcroze principles and use these skills to sing classical, folk, and liturgical music. The choir participates in the Lazarus Saturday Divine Liturgy, along with campus church school children, and has the yearly Spring Concert. Next year, the choir will work on portions of the vespers service with hopes of singing on several Saturday evenings.
Their conductor, area music teacher Danielle Miller, talked about the importance of the group and its diligence in training, saying, "One of the most fundamental ways to prepare children to fully participate in the life of the Church is by teaching them the singing skills they will use in worship."
Mrs. Miller is a lifelong musician. She taught vocal and general music for more than 13 years in public schools in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Her choirs were regularly awarded top honors in music competitions and invited to perform at professional music education conventions. She has served as a clinician, workshop presenter, and guest conductor, and now teaches K-8 music at Blue Rock School in West Nyack, New York. She is also pursuing certification in Dalcroze, a method of teaching music that brings natural movement to conscious awareness in order to increase musicianship.
A church musician nearly continuously since her teens, Mrs. Miller assisted the Trinity (Episcopal) Church in the City of Boston youth chorister program and taught sight-singing to all the Trinity Church choirs. At Pascha 2008, she was chrismated at St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She conducted the choir at St. George’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Danbury, Connecticut and helped them participate in a pan-orthodox concert in November 2009. She lives with her husband Scott and her daughters Stella and Sofia in nearby Harrison, New York.