It is YCCO’s stated mission to provide an opportunity for musical expression and education in a joyful environment.
To study and perform a variety of choral music in the tradition of American and world composers, both secular and sacred.
To improve choir performance and personal growth by teaching skills such as melody, harmony, rhythm, reading skills, vocal tone, choral technique and teamwork.
To encourage the life-long learning and enjoyment of music.
To supplement the musical training offered in Central Oregon’s school music programs.
YCCO began in 1990 as an outreach of the Cascade Festival of Music when Beth Basham founded the Cascade Festival Children’s Choir. Comprised of one choir with approximately 85 singers in grades four through eight, the choir met October through May for weekly rehearsals and gave two concerts during the course of the year and one at the festival. Mrs. Basham provided the artistic vision and choir direction. Enthusiastic choir families and festival volunteers provided operational support.
In its fourth year, with a growing artistic reputation and a desire for more performance opportunities, the choir became a separate non-profit corporation. By the sixth year, the regional population had grown so that a second choir was needed. YCCO split into two groups, with the more experienced singers comprising the Premiere Choir; the younger singers becoming the Debut Choir. Festivals and more concerts were added to the performance repertoire, and the Premiere Choir began to travel. The Premiere Choir has since performed in Oregon and other areas of the Pacific Northwest, Canada, England, Hawaii, Turkey and Greece. YCCO today has a reputation for artistic excellence, with a Premiere Choir experienced in international touring, and with a Debut Choir that boasts an established state presence.
YCCO provides a special learning environment designed to be a rich and rewarding musical experience for each student. Choristers study and perform a variety of music from simple unison folk songs to contemporary musical literature. Both sacred and secular music are selected and performed in a variety of settings. Repertoire is not selected to intrude on anyone’s personal beliefs, but rather to give each child a broad music education that includes learning about other peoples and cultures. It is essential that all singers be willing to sing all repertoires.
Masterpieces of music from all styles and periods form the foundation for music learning and serve as the basis for the curriculum. We believe that “children should be led to musical masterpieces by means of musical masterpieces.” (Zoltan Kodaly) Because the best musical experiences for youth are inherent in great music, YCCO repertoire includes the music of Bach, Mozart, Handel, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Britten, Kodaly, R. Vaughn Williams, Aaron Copeland, Bela Bartok and others. Folk, popular, gospel, spirituals and patriotic music are also included.
Musical theory (melody, rhythm, harmony, timbre, dynamics, form, style and performance practice) and musical skills (singing, sight-reading, tonal balance and performance protocol) are taught throughout the rehearsals. Musical concepts are taught by singing, listening and analysis.
Singing is the major focus of the musical experience in YCCO. Singing is a powerfully personal means of musical expression. We hope this experience will form the foundation of a life-long relationship with music for the singers and their families.
Children are taught the use of their vocal instruments through exercises in posture, breathing and tone production. The body is the instrument in singing, so musical relationships are internally experienced and are likely to be “felt” and heard. The abilities to hear, conceptualize and perceive music, and then respond musically develops naturally from the human voice. Singing skill and musical understanding are essential components of the creative process and fundamental to music education. Musical re-creation through vocal performance is a way of experiencing and expressing music unlike any other activity.