The Blair Children's Chorus Tradition
The Blair Children's Chorus Program was established as part of the precollege division of the Blair School of Music in 1988. BCC has a distinguished history of sharing the love of music with hundreds of children, developing fine musicians, and offering quality concerts to the Nashville community. The BCC has performed numerous times with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, including recent performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, Roger Waters' Ca Ira, and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.
In recent years the chorus has toured nationally and internationally, with performance tours of Budapest, Prague, Ireland and Costa Rica. Our students have had the opportunity to study with the most significant pedagogues of vocal youth music education, including Doreen Rao and Bob Chilcott. Blair Children's Chorus graduates have earned music scholarships in music at some of the nation's finest universities. While many pursue music careers, all retain a lifelong love and appreciation for music. Whatever their long-term pursuits may be, BCC graduates find that the poise, self-confidence and discipline learned in choir equips them well for the challenges ahead.
The program is classically based, with strong emphases on healthy vocal production, music reading skills and performance. The singers, who are in grades 1-12, come from all over the Middle Tennessee area. What brings these children together is a love of music, a desire to sing and make friends with other singers, and a dedication to achieving significant musical goals.
KEY: CR = Chorale; CC = Concert Choir; CH = Choristers; TC = Training Choir; BC = Boychoir; YMC = Young Men's Chorus; YSB = Young Singers of Blair
How to Audition
The next audition dates for the Blair Children's Chorus will be held via ZOOM on:
10-12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16
5-7:30 p.m. Monday, May 18
Step 1: Families should fill this form out in its entirety.
Step 2: We will email you a half hour audition window based on your answers on this form.
Step 3: Download and install ZOOM software on your personal computer, tablet, or phone.
Audition procedures will vary according to age, ability, and previous musical experience. No prepared selection is required. Prospective students should be prepared to sing a familiar song like 'Row Row Row Your Boat', 'Happy Birthday' or 'My Country 'tis of Thee'. Students may also be asked to sight-read a simple melody and/or rhythmic exercise. Audition results will be e-mailed approximately one week from the date of the audition. For more information about auditions, please email Julie Claverie.
Costs of Participation
For each semester 2020-21, the tuition for 15 weeks of instruction for Training Choir and Young Singers of Blair will be $260; Boychoir and Blair Choristers will be $340; Young Men's Chorus and Concert Choir will be $415. If your student participates in Chorale, it is an additional charge of $63 per semester. In addition, families with two students enrolled will receive a 25-percent discount for the second child enrolled. For more information, please download our precollege brochure.
Limited scholarship funds (based on need and ability) are available for qualified candidates who submit a completed scholarship form by the fall deadline. We are not able to award scholarships for Training Choir or Young Singers of Blair students.
Each child is expected to procure the appropriate concert attire. These items are purchased through BCC, and specific amounts are printed on page 14-15 in our BCC Handbook. In addition, girls in Concert Choir and Choristers must purchase black character shoes, available at dancewear stores throughout the area. Boys must wear black shoes and socks, also purchased independently.
Fall Camp (NOTE: BCC Choir Camp for Fall 2020 is CANCELLED)
Students in Concert Choir, Choristers, Boychoir and Young Men’s Chorus participate annually in a mandatory fall camp each year. The boys will have their camp at Camp Widjiwagan in Antioch, TN. The girls will have their camp at Camp Marymount in Fairview, TN. $160.00 covers the cost of all meals, lodging for two nights, tuition and materials.
Choirs of the Blair Children's ChorusChorale
Boys and Girls, must be members of another BCC ensemble
Rehearsals: 4:45-6:15 p.m. Wednesdays, Choral Rehearsal Hall
Mary Biddlecombe, conductor. Chorale provides an opportunity for our advanced students to sing in a mixed SATB ensemble that is not restricted by age or gender, but by a higher standard for musicianship, repertoire and performance. Students will rehearse for this choir in addition to their primary choir, and must have completed at least one semester in that ensemble to be eligible.
Girls in grades 8-12
Rehearsals: 4:45-6:15 p.m. Mondays, Choral Rehearsal Hall
Mary Biddlecombe, conductor. This select choir gives multiple concerts per year, tours every summer and attends a weekend fall camp. Concert Choir has performed numerous times with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and other area arts organizations. Recent concert tours and festivals have taken the choir to Budapest, Prague, Ireland, Costa Rica, Oregon, New Mexico, Canada and Germany.
Young Men's Chorus
Boys with changed or changing voices
Rehearsals: 6:10-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Room 2192/Choral Rehearsal Hall
Tucker Biddlecombe, conductor. The Young Men's Chorus is for boys whose voices are in the process of changing or have changed. We work on healthy vocal technique and new ways of using voices as they go through transition. Repertoire includes music written for men's voices, SATB literature with the Boychoir, and other ensemble pieces with the other Blair Children's Choruses. There are several opportunities to perform each semester. Travel has taken them to several states, as well as an international tour to Germany. A good sense of pitch, unforced sound and a willingness to explore new ways of singing are needed for this group.
Girls in grade 5 and older
Rehearsals: 6:20-7:20 p.m. Mondays, Choral Rehearsal Hall
Mary Biddlecombe, conductor. This intermediate choir sings multiple concerts per year and attends choral camp each fall. Choristers repertoire includes music with multiple parts, and singers alternate voice parts on each piece in order to develop strong vocal technique and musicianship skills. Choristers sometimes joins Concert Choir in performances in the Nashville area and have enjoyed weekend tours to several states. For admission to this chorus, a child should demonstrate singing that is on pitch and in tune with a pleasant quality. In 2020, members of the Blair Choristers will perform at the Southern Division American Choral Directors Conference in Mobile, AL.
Boys in grade 3 and older
Rehearsals: 5:45-7 p.m. Thursdays, Choral Rehearsal Hall
Mary Biddlecombe, conductor. This chorus sings repertoire that boys have enjoyed for centuries, including classical music, art songs, folk songs and modern compositions written specifically for boys' voices. Members of the Boychoir have performed with the Nashville Symphony, the Boston Camerata, at civic events, in local schools, churches and at Blair. Travel has taken them to several states, as well as an international tour to Germany. For admission to this chorus, a child should demonstrate singing that is on pitch and in tune with a pleasant quality. In 2020, members of the Nashville Boychoir will perform at the Southern Division American Choral Directors Conference in Mobile, AL.
Young Singers of Blair
Boys and Girls in grades 3-5
Rehearsals: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Thursdays, Room 2190/2192
Emily Clark, conductor. Students in this ensemble enjoy developing their voices, ears and musicianship through singing and music reading. They sometimes sing in two parts and enjoy partnering with the Training Choir at times for rehearsal and performance. This group performs once or twice a semester, with the primary focus being on learning and enjoyment. Previous choral experience is not necessary - we look for a free singing tone that is on pitch and in tune, a love of singing and a desire to be part of a team.
Boys and Girls in grades 1-3
Rehearsals: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Thursdays, Room 2190/2192
Lauryn Moody, conductor. Introduction to singing, music activities and fundamentals are the focus of this choral group. Singers will learn how to find the singing voice and produce it. They will begin learning the language of music and they will enjoy making music as they learn.Students enjoy singing with the Young Singers of Blair in rehearsal and performance sometimes. This group performs once a semester, but the primary focus is on learning and enjoyment. Previous choral experience is not necessary - we look for a free singing tone that is on pitch and in tune, a love of singing and a desire to be part of a team.
About our team
Artistic Director of the Blair Children's Chorus
Mary Biddlecombe serves as Artistic Director of the Blair Children's Chorus at Vanderbilt University. She is involved with each of the program's seven graded choirs, working to create a learning environment that nurtures young musicians to become lifelong learners. She teaches collegiate courses in music education and supervises student teachers at Vanderbilt, and serves as a mentor to undergraduate students working as assistants in the Blair Children's Chorus.
A veteran teacher, Biddlecombe has taught music at every grade level. Choirs under her direction have performed for conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, and have toured nationally and internationally. The Blair Children's Chorus is a frequent collaborator with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, with projects including two Mahler symphonies, John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony, and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana performed in Nashville and Prague, CZ. Collaborations with Vanderbilt have included John Rutter's Mass of the Children, Leonard Bernstein's MASS, and J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion. The Blair Children's Chorus will be a featured performer at the Southern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in 2020.
Biddlecombe is in-demand as a choral clinician, and has presented interest sessions for music educators all over the Southeast. She has conducted all-state choruses in Alabama and Florida, as well as several honor choirs in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, New York, Kentucky, North Carolina and Mississippi. She is a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Music Education from the Crane School Music at SUNY Potsdam. Biddlecombe makes her home in Nashville with her husband, Tucker Biddlecombe, Director of Choral Activities at Vanderbilt.
Assistant Director of the Blair Children's Chorus
Director of the Training Choir
Lauryn Moody serves as Assistant Director and Accompanist for the Blair Children's Chorus. Moody has been involved at Blair since 1999, when she began accompanying the Boys’ Choir. Under the direction of Hazel Somerville, these maturing voices soon grew into the Young Men’s Chorus. In addition to these two choirs, Moody began accompanying Concert Choir and Choristers in 2013, and the next fall she began co-directing Training Choir with Mary Biddlecombe.
Moody received her Music Education degree from Samford University, where she studied piano with Witold Turkiewicz and Betty Sue Shepherd. Graduate studies in Music Therapy were done at FloridAa State University, where she accompanied the University Chorus under the direction of Clayton Krehbiel. She taught elementary music for two years in Homewood, Ala., before coming to Nashville in 1979. She served as Music Specialist at Crieve Hall Elementary School for one year before moving to Julia Green Elementary in 1992, where she enjoyed teaching for nearly 20 years. Moody has directed and accompanied student choirs since she was 14, and is delighted to be involved at this time with our students. When not at the piano, she is gardening and playing with grandchildren.
Director of Choral Activities (and Young Men's Chorus)
Tucker Biddlecombe's full bio can be found here.
Julie Claverie , bio and photo coming soon!
Barbara Santoro and Cindy Finch, bios and photos coming soon!