The collective voices of some 130 young people, ages 5 to 18, will resound through the 1,976-seat concert hall in the Music Center at Strathmore on the evening of Sunday, June 5. Glorystar Children’s Chorus’ (GCC) 20th Anniversary Concert will be a dual celebration as it coincides with the 100th birthday of the late Taiwanese musician and composer Chuang-Sheng Lu (1916-2008). Lu inspired Cherie Jeng, GCC’s artistic director and music educator, to found the choral group in 1996.
Glorystar’s name came from the Rong Shing Children’s Chorus that Lu directed and co-founded in Taipei. “The words ‘Rong Shing’ could be translated into glorious, glory, shiny star,” noted GCC board member Ana Astrid Molina.
Hailed as the pioneer of the children’s chorus in Taiwan, Lu had a profound effect on Jeng, who studied music education and choral training under his tutelage and worked with him as an accompanist, theory teacher, and executive administrator. “(His) strict classroom management allowed him to educate a multitude of great musicians and many happy singers,” Jeng said. “I admired his education philosophy: ‘There is no such thing as a poor student, only a poor teacher.’”
The group’s multicultural repertoire includes songs in 10 languages–English, Chinese (Mandarin, Hakka and Thao), Japanese, Spanish, Latin, Italian, French, and Swahili. Musical styles vary “from classical to jazz to folk songs to Broadway,” Jeng said. “The Far Eastern cultures don’t normally mix in cultural groups as most groups are dedicated to a specific culture. In that sense, Glorystar offers that place for sharing among these cultures and with the community-at-large,” Molina explained. “Educating children through music is a means of uplifting a country’s culture.”
Glorystar members perform in five smaller choruses—Prima, Dolce, Cantabile, Concert and Chamber—according to their age and skill level. “We emphasize teamwork and self-discipline. Musically we emphasize sight-reading, ear training, and tone development, which will benefit our students the rest of their lives,” Jeng said.
Ana-Alicia Feng, a 2013 GCC alumna, said that getting involved in the group helped her expand her musical capabilities, “create lasting friendships, and better connect to my Taiwanese heritage, which was really hard for me to do before GCC.”
Under honorary artistic director Jing Ling-Tam, a University of Texas at Arlington professor of vocal studies who also studied with Lu, the anniversary show will feature the local debut of Lu’s arrangement of a century-old tribal song. “Happy Reunion” 快樂的聚會 (Kuàilè de jùhuì) will be sung “in the original Thao language, an almost extinct language,” Molina said. “You can still hear this song in Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake Mountain Region when the Thao tribe makes the sweet rice cake during the harvest festival.”
An audience sing-along of “Sun and Rain” 陽光和小雨 (Yángguāng hé xiǎoyǔ) is also planned. Pinyin phonetics, a system used for transcribing or the Romanization of Chinese characters, will be provided for pronunciation.
In addition to Glorystar’s current singers, the concert will feature its alumni chorus and special guests including international award-winning soprano Yvonne Cheng, another of Lu’s students, as well as the Baltimore Children’s Chorus, the Hakka TungFa Chorus and the National Taiwan University Chorus of D.C.
Jeng echoed the sentiments of GCC’s concert and its mission “to nurture and provide excellent music education in the joy of choral art with a rich repertoire of Asian and Western music to increase appreciation and build bridges within our diverse community.” “We will sing ‘Happy Reunion’ for the grand finale to celebrate GCC’s 20 years of great team work and harvest of happy singers,” she said.
Auditions for GCC will be held by appointment from June 9 to 12 at Seven Locks Baptist Church, 11845 Seven Locks Road, Potomac. A non-refundable $20 audition fee is charged. Call 240-277-7629, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.glorystar.org.