Photos courtesy of Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

On the evening of May 19, 2024, the Madison Youth Choirs (MYC) presented their Spring Concerts at the Verona High School Performing Arts Center. The multiple choirs, arranged by age and gender performed an impressive variety of songs from European Classical, to a Broadway Show Tune, to a Hebrew folk song, and a traditional Gospel song. There was a packed audience who was delighted by the performance.

Founded in 2003, when Madison Boychoir and Madison Children’s Choir joined forces to become Madison Youth Choirs, MYC includes singers of all experience levels, annually serving more than 1,000 young people, ages 7-18, and over 20,000 audience members through a wide variety of choral programs. Cultivating a comprehensive music education philosophy that inspires self-confidence, personal responsibility, and a spirit of inquiry leading students to become “expert noticers,” MYC creates accessible, meaningful opportunities for youth to thrive in the arts and beyond (excerpted from https://www.madisonyouthchoirs.org/about-us/).

This year the choirs have benefited from the artist-in-residence, Onome who specializes in play-based learning and circle singing. A daughter of Nigerian immigrant parents who grew up in Chicago, Onome quickly engaged the entire audience in circle singing using different tones, modulations, and cadences. Her impact on MYC was evident by the enthusiastic way the choir members greeted her and embraced her notion of “unbroken.”

Each year at the Spring Concert MYC presents the Carrel Pray Music Educators of the Year Award. This year’s awardees were Leotha and Tamera Stanley who are well-known for their musical and educational contributions to our community and beyond for a combined more than 50 years. The introduction of the Stanley’s award was preceded by a beautiful description of their many contributions to music education and a lovely description of their personal love story. Various community members contributed anecdotes about the Stanley’s impact on them and the wider community.  Interestingly, it was a bit oxymoronic to be at a concert in the Madison area and see them sitting in the audience rather than playing, singing, and/or directing the singers. 

The Madison community is doubly blessed to have Leotha and Tamera Stanley as active and engaged residents. Congratulations, Lee and Tammy!