A high note: Bangor Area Children’s Choir welcomes new director

Posted April 04, 2014, at 2:45 p.m.
Last modified April 04, 2014, at 5:57 p.m.

A Bangor-based children’s choir is starting the season off on a high note after bringing in a new artistic director and ramping up efforts to attract more young singers.

Robert Ludwig, the Bangor Area Children’s Choir artistic director, joined the organization last September after he and his wife decided to turn their vacation destination into a permanent home.

The choir, known previously as Heritage Singers, was started in 1992 by Jean Sigler and Michele Hall. It became a children’s performing group and since 1995 has been operating as a nonprofit, independently run organization, according to its website. It caters to youth singers in Maine ages 8-18.

Students are broken up into two choirs — the Treble Choir which is a “training choir” of singers, and the Youth Chorale, which accepts members through an audition process. Young singers not only learn about their voices, they are taught about posture and presence and musical theory, among other things.

Since joining the organization, Ludwig has kept the students busy, an effort he hopes will attract new talent.

“Getting out and doing performances is a great way to increase our visibility,” he said.

Late last year, the choir held a winter concert and also performed carols at a “home for the holidays” house tour event.

Earlier this month, students performed at the State House for Arts Education Day, singing the national anthem and giving a small concert in the hall of flags. Prior to that, they toured colleges around the state meeting with music professors and learning about music education.

“I wanted them to see what it’s like to be in a college setting, and to hear what the opportunities are to make music in college and beyond,” Ludwig said.

They also met with students from other schools in Maine who are studying music through public school programs.

“It was a good opportunity for the kids to be ambassadors from Bangor and to interact with kids from a completely different setting,” Ludwig said.

For some of the students, the BACC program bridges a gap caused by a lack of funding for music programs. However, Ludwig said that isn’t his primary mission. He is happy to provide music for children who don’t receive it at school, but he sees BACC as more of a supplement to those children who crave more.

“One of the features of a program or choir like ours is that everyone is there because they love singing, they love music and they want to accell at it,” he said. “We’re not looking to replace what goes one, we’re looking to support it and offer something additional.”

Funding is provided through contributions from businesses, fundraisers and individual sponsorships. Students are also required to pay tuition which ranges from $240 to $400 however, some students are able to secure scholarships.

“The kids in Bangor are fantastic … all of the students I’ve been blessed to work with are very eager about singing, they have beautiful voices and I’m very pleased with their progress,” Ludwig said.

Looking forward, he hopes to piggyback on the choir’s recent successes to help garner more interest among area students.

“At the moment, we are a smaller group than we would like to be, but they are singing wonderfully and we are looking to grow over the next year or two,” Ludwig said.

Upcoming events

• The Bangor Area Children’s Choir will perform “Carmina Burana” alongside the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, 3-5 p.m. April 13, at the University of Maine Collins Center. Tickets are available through the BSO website.

• The choir’s annual spring concert is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. May 9, at First Baptist Church in Bangor. This year’s theme is “Here comes the sun,” and will include everything from Beatles songs to “Le Miserables.” Watch last year’s spring concert on the Bangor Area Children’s Choir YouTube page.

For a full listing, visit bangorareachildrenschoir.com.