One Voice Children’s Choir empowers youth, sows hope throughout world
Jul 28, 2017 01:24PM
● By Keyra Kristoffersen
The One Voice Children’s Choir performs patriotic and pop songs at the Salt Lake County Hunter Library. (Jeanette Liddell)
On Saturday, July 8 the One Voice Children’s Choir partnered with Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks to perform a free outdoor concert at Hunter Library in West Valley City.
“I knew that we wanted to serve the community out in West Valley and that was a really neat performance,” said assistant director and accompanist Anne Cecala. “I felt like it really made a impact on those kids in the audience.”
Attendees were treated to patriotic and pop songs pulled from their inspiring repertoire designed to enrich the lives of their audience including “America the Beautiful” and theme songs from the Vancouver Olympics.
The choir later went on to perform at the 21st annual Survivors at the Summit at Snowbird Resort to support cancer survivors from the Cancer Wellness House. They performed at Follow the Flag closing ceremonies in Pleasant Grove celebrating the flying of the largest American flag ever flown among what Cecala called a “sea of people” paying tribute to the military and servicemen and women.
The One Voice Children’s Choir originated when Masa Fukuda, who had recently graduated from BYU in media music composition with Golden Key International Honor Society Certification, was asked to direct a children’s choir for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The children had so much fun that many asked to stay on and keep singing with Fukuda.
“Masa has a gift working with children and they love working with him, he really does a great job of pulling potential out of kids and encouraging them and seeing their potential to start with,” said Cecala.
The choir consists of 150 children, ages 4-18 singing uplifting and inspiring music that Fukuda composes or arranges and records in his home studio. Two rehearsals are scheduled every week in Lehi and Salt Lake City in order to accommodate children coming from all over the Wasatch Front, Heber, Ogden, Manti, and Wyoming. The group averages 60 performances at a variety of venues throughout their season.
After a collaboration music video of the choir singing “Let It Go” with Alex Boye in 2014 went viral, they were contacted with the idea to audition for that season of “America’s Got Talent” where they would travel first to perform at the live show in Hollywood and then go on to the quarterfinals at Radio City Music Hall with the top 48 contestants.
The impact on the group was significant and expanded their reach so far that they were later invited to sing at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama in 2015 and involved with Operation Underground Railroad.
“I never thought that I would be meeting the people that we’ve met or we would be involved in the causes that we’ve been involved in,” said Cecala who studied choral education and vocal performance. She never realized how much she would be involved when her daughter auditioned and began performing with the choir six years ago. She believes the scope of the program has expanded exponentially. “Maybe we can carry out our mission and expand our influence on a global scale instead of just a local one.”
Thanks to the increased media exposure, the One Voice Children’s Choir was requested by the US Department of Defense to travel to France in June 2017 to perform at the D-Day Commemoration ceremonies in line with the “Families in the Military” theme. 102 kids and parent volunteers traveled to France to participate and film a music video on Omaha Beach singing the song “When You Believe.”
“That was just an amazing opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Cecala, who felt that the kids were absorbing the significance of the event. “The kids were able to learn so much about World War II and D-Day that they never could have gained from their history books.”
Cecala believes that the choir is there to help dreams come true while inspiring and enriching both the Utah and global community and giving the kids the chance to learn leadership, new talents and confidence.
“When there’s so much negativity in the world, I just think the only thing to combat that is positivity and encouragement and hope and that’s the music that we sing,” said Cecala.
The One Voice Children’s Choir is a non-profit organization funded through grants, private donations and money raised from songs bought on iTunes. For more information about the choir for upcoming events and booking, visit: http://onevoicechildrenschoir.com/.