Three decades after she started it, Eileen Finley finds it astonishing her children’s choir is as popular today as the day the group hit its first note.
“I never could have imagined this,” said Finley, artistic director of the Pennsylvania Youth Chorale. “All I was doing then was filling in a couple of requests for singing groups that came from a high school director and from kids. It turned into this wonderful organization.”
That “wonderful organization” – a youth singing group that, over the years, has performed in 26 states, overseas and twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City – will delight visitors to Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn with an interactive concert March 11 at 4 p.m.
Founded in 1977, the nonprofit Pennsylvania Youth Chorale includes about 75 children from Bucks and Montgomery counties in its junior and senior-level choirs. The senior choir, comprising 42 members ages 10 to 15, will perform at Glencairn. The concert will feature a varied program including art music - music composed in a classical tradition and intended as serious art – and international folk songs.
“It’ll be a very family-oriented, children-friendly performance,” said Finley. “Art music is music by a major composer. And since this year marks the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, we’ll spotlight his work. All of his work is art music and some of it is very child friendly because, after all, he was a child when he wrote music.”
The concert will be “very interactive,” she said, with children in the audience invited to sing on stage with the youth chorale during the hour-long show.
The youth chorale’s roots run deep. In 1976, Finley was a music teacher in Bucks County’s Neshaminy School District and her children’s choir participated in the high school’s musical.
“When the musical was over,” said Finley, “the kids wanted to keep singing. The parents were willing to make outfits for them to wear, and were willing to drive them to rehearsals and events. I thought, let’s keep going.”
The school year ended and still there was great enthusiasm to continue Finley’s youth singing group.
“It was the kids who were driven to form the organization,” said Finley. “It really didn’t come from me. The kids kept asking, ‘now what can we do, what can we do?’ So I thought I’d go with it as long as it lasted. And here we are today.”
Admission to the March 11 concert is $10; $5 for museum members and students, and free for children 5 and younger. Glencairn Museum is located at 1001 Cathedral Road, Bryn Athyn.