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First Church in Deerfield looking for ‘choral scholars’

  • Congregation members sing inside The First Church of Deerfield. The church is looking high school students to take part in its Choral Scholars program. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • The First Church of Deerfield. The church is looking high school students to take part in its Choral Scholars program. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • The First Church of Deerfield. The church is looking high school students to take part in its Choral Scholars program. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo



For the Gazette
Thursday, June 01, 2017

DEERFIELD — The First Church of Deerfield is seeking young singers for its Choral Scholars program, an educational initiative that brings students from all walks of life “together with a common musical interest.”

“It’s an opportunity for high school students to sing a large range of choral repertoire,” said Director of Music Thomas Pousont.

The program is free to the public, requiring a one-day per week commitment for rehearsal at the church on top of individual practice, and two-hour performances on weekends.

“We’re looking for students from Frontier, from Greenfield, and the other high schools. One of the goals is to have students from private and public schools,” Pousont said, noting the “junior varsity” has less of a time commitment. In addition to students, “adults with a lot of choral experience are also welcome,” he said.

The next semester begins in September. Until then, Pousont is looking for more student members. He can be reached at deerfieldchoralscholars@gmail.com.

Recently, the Choral Scholars program completed its first complete year, finishing with about five students, mostly from Deerfield Academy where Pousont is choir director. The spring semester ended with a final concert at the Historic Church in Old Deerfield, held in conjunction with “Music and Verse in a Sacred Space,” another musical program that pairs poetry with music.

For students who apply to the program, “there’s an audition, and if they have a strong interest they’ll get into either the junior varsity or varsity part of the program,” Pousont said.

Those accepted can expect vocal and musical training, and receive a small scholarship to attend a camp or take music lessons in addition to singing in the choir.

It’s a chance to study under Pousont, an experienced musician who recently completed a doctorate in music from McGill University, and has been music director at the church for 14 years.

“For the advanced students, this is training to become leaders in choirs,” Pousont said. And for all musicians, “the skill of being able to read music off the page without your instrument to help is a powerful way to become a better musician.”

In the past, Pousont said singing in choirs was common — and “most of the major composers through the centuries began singing in choirs. Now, those opportunities don’t exist so much. Students don’t have many opportunities to sing with other students.”

The program is structured, with older, more experienced students receiving opportunities to sing individually, and younger students to sing in the choir. It’s an offshoot of the church’s music program, which holds many events and concerts throughout the year.

“This is one way to give what we have to the community,” Pousont noted about the broader mission of the church. “It’s one thing to have a great music program, but we’re really about the community. It’s a way to share it.”

For more information on the Choral Choir Program visit: www.firstchurchofdeerfield.org/choralscholars.