Seven members and two directors of the Children's Chorus of Carroll County will meet choral artists from around the world during the International Conference of the Organization of Kodaly Educators in August.
The University of Hartford in Connecticut is the site of the biennial two-week event.
IdaLea Rubin and Denise Jones, volunteer directors of the Children's Chorus of Carroll County, will attend the conference. Mrs. Rubin is the choral instructor at Spring Garden Elementary, and Mrs. Jones is the choral instructor at William Winchester Elementary. Participants are paying their own way with some aid from the Children's Chorus of Carroll County and the Carroll County Arts Council.
During the second week, from Aug. 8-15, the Organization of American Kodaly Educators will sponsor a choir camp for 100 children ages 11 to 15. Carroll participants include Michael Bezanson, 12, from West Middle; Melissa Hildenbrandt, 12, and Ron Menchey, 12, of East Middle; Justin Moffitt, 11, of North Carroll Middle; Tara Morgan, 12, of New Windsor Middle; Zayna Null, 14, of Francis Scott Key High; and Tatiana Zyry-Bareis, 14, of North Carroll High.
The singers will live at the university with children from 16 states and two Canadian provinces. They auditioned in November for places in the conference choir and a week of intense musical training to be led by Dr. Mary Goetze of Indiana University, known for her recordings and published children's music.
They will also meet members of Cantemus, the Hungarian children's chorus, which has produced several recordings, and the Indianapolis Children's Choir. Both guest choirs will be in residence to mix socially and to give concerts during the week.
Cantemus "has the most exquisite sound, entirely different than American children," Mrs. Rubin said.
The Carroll County contingent has conducted extra study practices at William Winchester Elementary, with nine adult-level choral pieces to memorize before the camp begins. At the camp, additional music will be learned for a concert by the children's choir in the final days of the conference.
Gathered in a tight circle with piano close by, group members use their hands to tap difficult rhythms on their knees. Word by word, they enunciate phrases in German and Latin. After a single note from the piano, they sing the words of George F. Handel, "O lovely peace with plenty crown'd."
From this handful of voices, music written about a beautiful day, a world and a century away, fills the room.
Throughout the world and in Carroll County today, music is taught to children based upon the ideas of Zoltan Kodaly. A Hungarian composer and music educator, Kodaly is known for traveling through Hungary to collect and save thousands of folk melodies.
His style of composition later reflected the distinctive native rhythms and melodies he discovered. Proponents of Kodaly's theories have formed international and national associations, which are convening at Hartford in August.
"Kodaly teaches musical literacy through the music indigenous to a country. Folk music is the soul of the people," Mrs. Rubin said. "You teach rhythm reading, and what's called 'solfege,' which is being able to sing what is written without the aid of any instrument."
As the Carroll County children rehearse, they have vague notions of what to expect at the August conference.
"I'll be meeting people from all around the U.S.," said Mike Bezanson, who up to now has traveled only along the East Coast.
Ron Menchey has sung for more than six years in the children's chorus.
"I just like it," he said of the chorus. "It will be real neat to travel together and sing."
Justin Moffitt added, "I think she's [Dr. Goetze] going to be a really good conductor. I know we'll have classes every day."
Learning is what the conference is all about, Mrs. Rubin said.
"It's a laboratory. The kids will be meeting . . all these experts from all over the world. I can't believe these kids are getting such a great opportunity."
Alan Lomax, collector of cowboy and frontier songs, and John Langstaff, founder of "Revels," groups based in several cities across the nation that preserve traditional and medieval music and hold historical festivals, will be among the conference guests.
Mr. Langstaff has also published award-winning children's song books.
Zayna Null and Tatiana Zyry-Bareis attended the National Conference of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators last year held in Norman, Okla. Zayna's mother, Kim, recalled the intensity of the children's choral rehearsals she attended.
"You never heard a piece clear through, just bits and pieces," she said.