It was the thrill of a lifetime for members of the Chester Children's Chorus, who performed at Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s inauguration ceremony on Tuesday in Harrisburg.
Forty students of the chorus sang three songs prior to the start of the ceremony, including "Take Me to the Water," "Love Train," and "Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a Bullfrog)." The chorus also had the honor of closing the inauguration event with a rendition of “America, the Beautiful.”
"It's an exciting way to start 2015," says Executive Director Kirsten Halker-Kratz, who notes that the chorus received an invitation to sing at the inauguration just prior to the holiday break.
Due to a faulty keyboard, the chorus was forced to improvise at the last minute and perform the ceremony a cappella. Undeterred, the chorus stepped up and delivered under pressure despite the less-than-ideal circumstances.
"The children were so poised and professional," says chorus president Cordelia Delson. "We knew they were going to be fantastic, and they were. I couldn't be more proud of their accomplishments."
The chorus includes boys and girls between the ages of 8 to 18 from the Chester-Upland School District who sing a challenging and sophisticated repertoire. Established in 1994 at the College by founder and artistic director John Alston, the chorus was formed with the goal of using music as a vehicle to offer children who live in the Chester-Upland School District the opportunity to expand their intellectual and cultural horizons. For his dedication to inspiring young minds and enriching souls, Alston will receive an honorary degree at the College's 143rd commencement in May.
“The children appreciate that singing in the inauguration is an opportunity to show the governor and Pennsylvanians that Chester is filled with excellence, talent, and potential," Alston told the Delaware County Daily Times prior to the chorus' departure for Harrisburg. "In fact, they are so proud and excited that they happily agreed to be on the bus by 6:45 a.m. to make it to Harrisburg."
Darria Brooks, a member of the chorus from Cardinal O'Hara High School, was appreciative of the opportunity. “It is a great honor and opportunity to sing at Governor Wolf's inauguration. I am elated to take part in such an important event for Pennsylvania and am extremely proud to be a member of the Chester Children's Chorus."
See additional coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer.