BROOKLYN BUZZ: Singing for a good cause

January 27, 2012 Heather Chin
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Nothing can draw a crowd quite like children putting on a show,but if it is children putting on a music festival to help otherchildren in need – as will be happening this Sunday, January 29, at2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge -then Brooklynites everywhere know that the place to be when it’shappening is right there in the audience.

The Children’s Choral Arts Festival for Peace is the first localgathering of young voices from across southwest Brooklyn in onevenue for an afternoon of singing, family, fun, food, face-paintingand, of course, fundraising. Admission is free, but donations areencouraged as all proceeds will benefit a new school building beingbuilt by the Children in Need Haitian Project to support Haitianstudents whose lives and education were interrupted by adevastating earthquake two years ago.

We’ve been focusing on peace and friendship with the Children’sChorus of Bay Ridge and we always do a fundraising element,explained Rita Pihra-Majurinen, the chorus’s director who is alsomusical director at Leif Ericson Day School, which will beparticipating in the Festival. Principal [Christine Hauge] jumpedright on it. Then the parents and kids got very excited. It’sturning out to be something really wonderful. The kids are just sojazzed about this because they get a chance to perform for otherchildren besides their usual thing they do in school.

Around 85 youths from Leif Ericson’s Primary and Junior Choirs, theChildren’s Chorus of Bay Ridge and St. Saviour Elementary School’sJunior Choir will be singing at the festival, each performing a fewpieces as part of their own groups and then, at the end, joiningtogether as one big chorus.

For the third through fifth graders from St. Saviour’s, who havebeen excitedly rehearsing up a storm according to teacher and choirdirector Julia Hurn, the festival is an opportunity [for them] todevelop their skills in front of audiences outside of the schoolthat they’re used to [and] and they can sing and learn fromwatching each other and performing in front of each other.

Hurn said that the eight to 11-year-olds will be singing TomChapin’s This Pretty Planet, Bing Crosby’s Swinging On A Star,a Swahili song called Fi Fi Fi, and one song that readers willhave to come to hear for themselves.

It’s always a journey with lots of surprises and ups and downs,said Hurn, who brainstormed with Pihra-Majurinen on the idea thatbecame the Children’s Choral Arts Festival. You start off at thebeginning of the year with excited, eager youngsters who love tosing and my job is to mold them, like a sports team, into a teamwith each having their own function and all working together in achoral ensemble. It’s just fascinating, watching their growth andbeing a part of that.

The Children’s Choral Arts Festival for Peace is sponsored by ArtOn the Corner, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and theChildren’s Chorus of Bay Ridge. In addition to the singing portionof the afternoon, there will also be an exhibit of art created bythe singers, classmates and alumni of the participating schools.Refreshments will also be served.

The goal of community collaboration and enthusiasm is already beingrealized, said Art on the Corner Director Jessica Corbin. Imentioned it to the audience at another event and so many peoplecame up and wanted to know about it. The feeling of community is sogreat and we don’t have to go to Park Slope or somewhere else. So[people are saying] next week, I’m going to bring my children,grandchildren, nephews, nieces!

It’s bringing people together but also it’s for such a greatcause, said Corbin. It’s children helping other children, whichis good on so many levels, teaching them how it feels to help otherpeople, and hopefully instills lifelong commitment to helpingothers.

For more information on the Children in Need Haitian Project, or

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