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Youngsters’ voices soar in Fort Lauderdale-based Girl Choir of South Florida

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sun-sentinel-ac

Youngsters’ voices soar in Fort Lauderdale-based Girl Choir of South Florida

By Julie Landry Laviolette, Special Correspondent

February 19, 2011

Long before “Glee” helped make singing cool again, Wallis Peterson was bringing young people together to cultivate their vocal ability. As founder and artistic director for the Girl Choir of South Florida, Peterson has been showcasing and grooming local talent for the past five years.

The nonprofit, Fort Lauderdale-based group has 120 members ages 7 to 18 from throughout South Florida. Auditions are staged each year in January, June and August for the choir, which offers four levels of varying skill and experience.

“We’re looking for young kids who have an interest that could unfold into a passion for singing,” said Peterson, of Oakland Park. “We try to recruit younger kids because if you can match pitch and keep a steady beat when you are 7 years old, you can learn to be a good musician.”

The chorus practices weekly at venues in Davie or Plantation, but Peterson aims to give each child a full musical education. Members learn to read music and study music theory and history. They also learn to teach by mentoring younger members.

“They’re not just getting together as singers. By the time they graduate, they will be able to use their voice as an instrument, just like a pianist or violinist,” Peterson said.

The choir performs at two major concerts a year, at two to three community events a semester, and is part of the concert series for several churches.

The group is classically based but also dabbles in pieces from Japan, Germany, France, Italy and other countries, as well as Broadway show tunes.

“I want the kids to be exposed to as many different types of music and as many different kinds of composers as possible,” Peterson said.

Peterson said it has always typically been easier to recruit girls than boys to sing, but she credits shows such as “Glee” for upping the popularity factor.

“The upside is that it has made singing cool. The unrealistic side is that every kid wants to have great costumes, be in big productions and always have a band hanging around to accompany them,” she said.

Peterson has taught music for 20 years, but it was a stint at South Broward High School, where she resurrected the school’s choir program, that she rediscovered a love for the women’s ensemble.

“I had an affinity for it,” she said. “There is significant good music that you could make with just women’s voices.”

When she taught with the Florida’s Singing Sons Boychoir from 1998 through 2006, she discovered a need in the community for a girls’ group.

“Parents would come to auditions and love the idea, and they would say, ‘Where can I bring my daughter to audition?’” Peterson said. “That was the impetus to start the Girl Choir, because there was really nothing serving the county.”

Annual tuition is $400 to $850, depending on the level, and tuition assistance is available. For more information, call 954-553-2809 or visit http://www.girlchoir.org.

The Girl Choir Of South Florida Wowed Audiences At Their 2010 Spring Concert “Journeys And Destinations”

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From the Sun-Sentinel Society Scene

The Girl Choir of South Florida recently performed to a packed house at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

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WSFL TV 39 The Morning Show Appearance

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Friday, May 14, 2010
WSFL TV-39 Studios
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The Girl Choir of South Florida was invited to appear on The Morning Show of WSFL TV-39, which featured an on-air interview with Mrs. Peterson as well as a live performance by an ensemble of Concert Choir members. Choristers Paige Giese and Nicole Straussman were also asked to be interviewed during a later part of the program.

NBC 6 South Florida Today Appearance

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
NBC 6 Studios
Miramar, Florida

The Girl Choir of South Florida was invited to appear on the NBC 6 news program South Florida Today. Mrs. Peterson was interviewed by Trina Robinson, and the Concert Choir performed the National Anthem, Bonse Aba, and Wongolo.

Broward members of Congress re-take the oath of office

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By Anthony Man -- January 26, 2009 10:40 AM

Originally published in the Sun-Sentinel Politics blog

Unlike President Obama’s oath of office, there was nothing wrong with the oath taken earlier this month by Broward U.S. Reps. Ron Klein, Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

But they gathered this morning for a ceremony in Fort Lauderdale at which they re-took the oath. Held at the federal courthouse downtown, it was a chance for local politicos and elected officials to mingle and to applaud the three members of Congress.

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Miami Herald – Girl Choir of South Florida schedules auditions

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Published in the Miami Herald

Girl Choir of South Florida schedules auditions

AS THE GIRL CHOIR ENDS ITS SEASON, IT’S GEARING UP FOR THE COMING ONE WITH AUDITIONS

Posted on Sun, May 25, 2008
Special to The Miami Herald

BY BETH FEINSTEIN-BARTL

With their voices raised in unison, The Girl Choir of South Florida ended its spring concert series with a few ribbits, combined with a couple of moos, quacks, meows and a cock-a-doodle-doo.

The unusual notes, mixed with feline dance moves and painted-on cat whiskers, were actually quite appropriate, given the theme, All Creatures Great and Small.

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