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The Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir, as it will be called, will become a nonprofit.
Courtesy of Roanoke College Children's Choir
Thursday, April 11, 2013
After 26 years, the Roanoke College Children’s Choir is leaving its nest and setting out on its own.
Kimberly Davidson, 54, has directed the choir since founding it in 1987. Tuesday, she told parents that the choir will leave Roanoke College to become an independent nonprofit called the Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir.
“We’ll be more community-centered and -based,” Davidson said Thursday.
Because the choir is self-governing and financially self-sustaining, it won’t take that many more steps to become a nonprofit, she said.
Under Davidson’s leadership, the choir has grown from 23 members in its first year to about 270 now, hailing from the New River Valley to Smith Mountain Lake and Lexington. It’s the largest children’s choir in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, Davidson said. The choir has performed twice at New York’s Carnegie Hall, as well as in Canterbury Cathedral in England and the Pacific Rim Festival in Hawaii.
The college released a statement acknowledging the choir’s departure.
“Roanoke College is proud of its 26-year relationship with the choir and has been pleased to help develop the choir into one of the premier children’s choirs in the country,” the statement said.
Neither the statement nor Davidson’s letter provides any specific reasons for the split.
“We have been proud to represent Roanoke College,” Davidson wrote.
Richard Smith, Roanoke College’s vice president for academic affairs and the dean of the college, said that at the time the choir began, it fit the music department’s community outreach mission.
At that time, for example, the faculty often conducted private tutoring for children. As the college expanded , such practices as the private tutoring have faded, while new academic programs have required increasing use of Olin Hall, where the children’s choir rehearses.
In the meantime the children’s choir continued to grow. Davidson said it’s difficult for Olin Hall to accommodate her choir, in terms of both space and scheduling.
Rehearsals for the Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir will now take place at Hollins University. Hollins will let the choir rehearse free of charge, Davidson said.
As an employee of Roanoke College, but not a faculty member, Davidson said she worked many volunteer hours to keep the choir running. She said that shifting to being the director of a nonprofit will let her work toward receiving compensation for all her hours. She said it’s not unusual for a comparable-sized choir to have two assistant directors.
The choir does receive help from more than 200 volunteers, mostly family members of the singers, and 29 volunteer committees. Davidson’s letter pledged to parents that the break from Roanoke College won’t change the choir’s mission or its offerings.
“We will carry forward our tradition of exceptional performances locally, and through tours, competitions and other exciting opportunities.”
Roanoke College won’t replace Davidson or start a new children’s choir of its own, Smith said. Though the college supported the choir, it wasn’t considered integral to its academic programs.
The transition to a nonprofit will take place over the summer. In the meantime, the choir is still performing as the Roanoke College Children’s Choir. Its next performance, “A Little Spring Music” — which is sold out — takes place 3 p.m. Sunday at Jefferson Center.
The choir is also slated to participate April 30 in the Young Artists Against Hunger fundraiser organized by Feeding America Southwest Virginia, which also takes place at Jefferson Center.
For more information about the choir, visit www.rccc.citymax.com .
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