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By Lois Thomson

"I think there's something deep in our core about singing together," says Jennie Nolan, and that's why she serves as director of the South Hills Children's Choir.  "The purpose of the choir is to give all kinds of kids from all kinds of life experiences a chance to come together and find something that unifies them, and it gives them a chance to creatively express themselves through singing," she added.  As a result, they develop better singing skills, better understanding of how music works, and a great sense of community.


South Hills Children's Choir for 'All Kinds of Kids'

The students range in age from 8-18, and current choir members are from Peters Township, Upper St. Clair, Ringgold, Finleyville, West Mifflin, Jefferson Hills, Canonsburg, and Washington.  Nolan, originally from California – where she worked with the San Diego Children's Choir – moved to Eighty Four, Pa., 20 years ago with her husband.  She said after they arrived, a position opened in Morgantown, W.Va., with the Morgantown Children's Choir and Youth Choir. 

"I applied and was offered the position, but my husband said, 'Why are you going down to Morgantown when there's nothing here? Let's see if we can figure something out.'"

The result was the SHCC, which started in 2013, and has three age levels. Nolan said the 8-to-10-year-olds do not need to audition, "they just need to sign up and they can sing with us."

The two older groups – middle school and high school age – were combined this year because of Covid, and they need to audition to join.

The high school group has had the opportunity to go on tour, and received an invitation to travel to England in 2019 as part of the International Children's Choir Festival. Nolan said they sang in Canterbury Cathedral, and were involved in some incredible cross-cultural experiences.

She is pleased that the choir is performing so well in the South Hills. 

"We've been promoting our choir here because not everyone wants to drive to Pittsburgh for great musical experiences,” Nolan said. “We're trying to offer something solid and musically sound, with lots of different styles but with good vocal techniques."

The choir has a spring concert scheduled for May 7 at 7 p.m. at Unity Presbyterian Church in Greentree. The title is "Lineage, The Music That Makes Us Who We Are," and Nolan said, "All of the music has been chosen to represent who we are as different members of the choir.  We've been talking about our family stories and where we come from. We're trying to encourage the kids to bring in any family history, so we can learn about our lineage."




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