Watch: More Than a Joyous Sound

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Associate Professor of Music John Alston created a community of strivers and seekers in the Chester Children's Chorus, which he founded with seven boys in 1994. Now with nearly 150 boys and girls of all ages that enjoy a summer learning program that includes science taught by Swarthmore faculty members, African dance and drumming, and a reading program, the Chorus makes far more than a joyous sound.

"While I hope that most of them will remain music-lovers and some of them will embrace classical music," Alston says, "what I really dream about for these kids is that they can go out and change the world. That's the truth."

This past spring, Alston spoke about his work with the Chorus as part of TEDxSwarthmore. He and the Chorus were also recently featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Alston's efforts to expand upon the successful model of the Chorus culminated in 2008 with the opening of the Chester Upland School of the Arts. Next month, the Chester Charter School for the Arts will provide for students in kindergarten to sixth grade a curriculum that combines rigorous academics with music, dance, and visual arts.