Home at last for youth choir group

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After 23 years, and 10 different homes, Young Voices of Colorado will soon move into a permanent space of its own.

Founder and artistic director Jena Dickey of Littleton spoke about her long search. The youth choir organization has been renting space from churches, but the group has grown to a point where it is too big and wants to use the rented space for too many hours for a church arrangement to be satisfactory, she says.

At first, she thought they could rent a larger commercial space, but the code requirements involved to accommodate 200 children — classified as an educational use — plus the need for high ceilings, made that plan impractical. “Even Pavarotti couldn't sing with a low acoustic tile ceiling.” And adequate restrooms were also an issue.

It meant gutting a space and shaping it to specific needs. After much searching, they found a 4,400-square-foot space in an office park development at 99 Inverness Drive East, #150. It's still in Arapahoe County and located near Interstate 25 for south metro area students as well as those who come from a distance. (Green Mountain, Westminster, Strasburg, Larkspur …)

Closing was May 6 and construction is underway on what was once a welding school. Dickey very much hopes to be in by Labor Day. The group made a substantial down payment and arranged a loan for the balance.

Dickey says she had hoped to do the necessary work for about $350,000, but with bathroom, ADA and fire issues, it will be closer to $500,000 when completed. (Supporters can buy a square foot of space for $100 — “and we may sell piano keys too,” Dickey said.)

There will be a 50-foot-by-30-foot choral room plus a smaller 700-square-foot choral space. Three offices, reception space, copy room, storage, two bathrooms and a break room are included, designed by architect Earl Anderson.

Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman, who is an interior designer by trade, has been advising on decorating and as we write, Dickey carries a car trunk filled with the chosen color swatches, carpet, tile, flooring samples, cabinet doors and more.

The large choir room will have a wall painted in YVA's signature purple, the smaller one will have a red wall, and offices will have green, while the carpet reflects all three, plus neutral tones.

In the meantime, auditions for younger children were finalized recently and Dickey is excited to contemplate a return to her first love: music education. “We hope to develop world citizens,” she says, proud of the accomplishments of her graduates, who have learned focus and discipline through music.

The choirs are called Treble Makers (second- to fourth-graders); Cantus; Signature; VoiceMale (boys with changed or changing voices); and Concert Choir. They give two concerts each year at the University of Denver's Newman Center and collaborate with other musical organizations in additional performances, such as Littleton Symphony and Littleton Chorale.

In the summer, YVC hosts other children's choruses from across the country in the “Sing a Mile High Festival,” where kids work with a team of musical educators and present a concert where they sing separately and jointly.

The staff members for the 501(c)(3) organization include Dickey, Chrys Harris, Margie Camp, Paul Smith, accompanists Jane MacQueen and Gretchen Timmer, Anna Larsen and Teddi Harring. Kathryn Ake is president of the board of directors.

Dickey likes to share a quote from great conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein: “It will be the artists, the feelers and thinkers who will ultimately save us — those who can articulate, educate, defy, insist and shout the biggest of dreams.”

Information about Young Voices of Colorado is found at: youngvoices.org, 303-797-7464.

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