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 Mahler's 3rd and 8th Symphonies, Britten's War Requiem, Roger Watters' Ca Ira, and Orff's Carmina Burana.
In recent years the chorus has toured nationally and internationally, with performance tours of England, Germany, 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
How to Audition
The next audition dates for the Blair Children's Chorus will be held on:
10-12 a.m. Saturday, May 18
Blair School of Music, Room 1109C (signs will be posted)
5-7 p.m. Monday, May 20
Blair School of Music, Room 1109C (signs will be posted)
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 2018-19, the tuition for 15 weeks of instruction for Training Choir, Boychoir, Young Men's Chorus, Blair Choristers and Concert Choir will be $380. If your student participates in Chorale, it is an additional charge of $55 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 deadline of August 27. We are not able to award scholarships for Training Choir students.
Each child is expected to procure the appropriate concert attire. These items are purchased through BCC, and specific amounts are printed on page 12-13 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.
Students in Concert Choir, Choristers, Boychoir and Young Men’s Chorus participate in a mandatory fall camp each year at Hillmont Camp in White Bluff, TN. $130.00 covers the cost of all meals, lodging for two nights, tuition and materials.
Choirs of the Blair Children's Chorus
Boys (treble) and Girls, must be members of another BCC ensemble
Rehearsals: 4:45-6:15 p.m. Wednesdays, Choral Rehearsal Hall
Chorale provides an opportunity for our advanced students to sing in a treble 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
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 Ireland, Costa Rica, Oregon, New Mexico, Canada and Germany. This summer, members of the Concert Choir will travel to Budapest and Prague.
Young Men's Chorus
Boys with changed or changing voices
Rehearsals: 6:10-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Room 2192/Choral Rehearsal Hall
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. This spring, members of the YMC have been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Girls in grade 5 and older
Rehearsals: 6:20-7:20 p.m. Mondays, Choral Rehearsal Hall
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.
Boys in grade 3 and older
Rehearsals: 5:45-7 p.m. Thursdays, Choral Rehearsal Hall
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.
Boys and Girls in grades 1-5
Rehearsals: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Thursdays, Room 2190/2192
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. 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 director
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 six graded choirs. She also teaches courses at Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities.
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 recent projects including two Mahler symphonies, John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, and a concert performance of Ça Ira, an opera written by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, with the composer in attendance. In 2018-19, students will be performing Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with the Nashville Symphony. Collaborations with the Vanderbilt Symphony Orchestra and Choir have included John Rutter's Mass of the Children, Leonard Bernstein's MASS and J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion.
Biddlecombe is in-demand as an adjudicator and 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 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
Matt Smyth, Assistant Director of the Blair Children's Chorus, started singing choral music as a member of the Young Singers of Pennsylvania in elementary school. Since then Smyth has sung with and directed children’s choirs, honor choirs, collegiate and graduate level ensembles. In 2005 Matt graduated with honors from Moravian College with a BMA degree in vocal performance.
After singing for a few years in New York City, Smyth moved to Oklahoma to study with renown educator Eph Ehly. In 2009, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Choral Conducting from the University of Oklahoma. Currently, Smyth spend most of his time as the Music Director at Montgomery Bell Academy, where he directs the junior school and upper school choirs. In addition to his work as a music teacher, Smyth enjoys spending time outdoors and coaches MBA’s Rock Climbing Club.
Assistant Director and Accompanist
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.
Julie Claverie , bio and photo coming soon!