Founding Artistic Director, Wallis Peterson, incorporated the Girl Choir of South Florida (GCSF) in March 2005 with the belief in the ability of choral singing to make a positive difference in girls’ lives and a strong desire to show South Florida’s audiences the artistry of young musicians. In August of that year, a few dozen girls attended the ﬁrst rehearsal of the Girl Choir at the auditorium of ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale. Currently, over 80 girls ages 6 through 18 from over 20 cities throughout Broward County rehearse with Artistic Director, Sylvia Aycock, and her staff at GCSF’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and at the GCSF satellite in Coral Springs.
Since its founding, the GCSF has presented a wide variety of repertoire to its audiences, highlighting music written speciﬁcally for girls’ and women’s voices. The choir has performed major choral works such as “A Ceremony of Carols” by Benjamin Britten, “Gloria in D” by Antonio Vivaldi, and “A Little Jazz Mass” by Bob Chilcott. Along with works by Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Rossini, Rutter, Debussy, Hahn, Vaughan Williams, Schumann, and Copland, the Girl Choir performs music by many of the best contemporary choral and theatrical composers—Andrea Ramsey, Jake Runestad, Paul Carey, Libby Larson, Eleanor Daley, Doreen Rao, Randall Thompson, Mary Goetze, Joan Szymko, Francisco Núñez, Moses Hogan, Emma Lou Diemer, George & Ira Gershwin, and more.
The success of the 2010 commissioned piece “Southern Gals” from Florida composer, David Brunner, has led to the choir’s participation in commissioning consortiums through Chorus America and the American Choral Directors Association many times since. GCSF also fosters the creative voices of its own choristers, frequently performing new music composed and arranged by members and alumni of the choir.
Performances for local community events make up a significant piece of the choir’s performance schedule each season. In August 2022, GCSF was honored to be invited to sing the National Anthem at the Florida League of Cities’ 100th anniversary conference in Hollywood Beach. Since 2018, GCSF ensembles have performed annually at the Oakland Park Holiday Village and as part of Christmas on Las Olas. Notable past performances include singing at the Young Professionals Organization convention in 2008 and at the swearing-in ceremony for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congressman Ron Klein, and Congressman Kendrick Meek in 2009.
Due to its reliable and professional reputation in the local arts community, GCSF often performs with other organizations throughout the region. Several of its choristers were selected in 2005 to perform in Florida Grand Opera’s production of “Un ballo in Maschera”. In 2009, the GCSF collaborated with Broward College in a community production of Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen.” In 2011 and 2017, the choir performed with Symphony of the Americas in their holiday concerts. As frequent collaborators with the Master Chorale of South Florida, GCSF has been featured on their performances of John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children” in 2013, Hector Berlioz’s “Te Deum” in 2019, and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” in 2022.
GCSF has a strong history of national and international travel, serving as musical ambassadors for the South Florida arts community. In 2009, the choir was invited to participate in the Paciﬁc International Children’s Choir Festival (piccfest) during the prestigious annual Oregon Bach Festival led by Helmuth Rilling – with seven other choirs from around the world under the direction of Dr. Sandra Snow. In 2011 the choir made its ﬁrst international tour, attending the prestigious Festival 500, a choral festival held every other year in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
In 2015, GCSF performed in Canterbury and London including a special Evensong performance at Canterbury Cathedral where the choir was selected to sit in for the Canterbury Boychoir by their choirmaster, David Flood. Also in December 2015, GCSF was invited to The White House by Barack and Michelle Obama to perform.
In the 2019-2020 season—until COVID-19 led to the sudden halt of events—GCSF had been accepted after a rigorous selection process as one of the leading local choruses to perform at the 2020 Chorus America national conference in Miami, hosted by Seraphic Fire. The choir was also invited through a selective process to attend piccfest’s Sisters in Song Festival, also unfortunately canceled due to the global pandemic.
At the start of the 2022-2023 season, GCSF relocated its main office in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, centering its programming in the city’s arts and music district. Each time the choir members enter this space, they are reminded of the significance of their voices and those of the women that came before them. At the same time, GCSF opened a satellite center in Coral Springs, to make our uniquely beneficial and enriching programs accessible to many more interested singers in the community.
GCSF maintains membership in Chorus America, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and the ACDA Women’s Commissioning Consortium.