Forty years is a big celebration for any company, but for an arts organization such as the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, it’s a very big deal. Started as the “Children of Peace Choristers” by Jocelyn Basse in 1973, the choir had humble beginnings. “Jocelyn was a visionary,” Denice Beights, Executive Director of the choir told me. “When she started the choir it was an extracurricular program because arts programs were prevalent in schools. Today, the program is vital to furthering arts education in our community because so many schools are cutting funding for arts in schools. It’s because of Jocelyn’s vision that we’re able to continue educating young people about music.” Music education is the cornerstone of what the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir does in the community. The choir defines themselves as a program that is based in music literacy not in performance. Their priority is to build children up by helping them gain confidence through learning music, learning to perform, and learning to work together with their peers in the choir. Participating in choral programs such as this prepares children to be arts patrons. In addition, Beights reminds me children in arts programs are 3 times more likely to seek Bachelors and Masters Degrees and are often more engaged in school. Over the years the choir has grown from one choir to seven and serves 255 children and approximately 5,000 alumni. “No one sits on the bench” Beights points out siting the difference between participating in the Children’s Choir and participating in a traditional sport. “We accept everyone who wants to participate and work with them at the level their at, building them up from there.” The choir is expanding to partner with communities throughout Northeast Indiana. They also offer financial assistance for families in need. The Fort Wayne Children’s Choir will celebrate its 40th season with a concert on Sunday April 21st at the Steel Dynamics Keith Busse IPFW Alumni Center at 2 p.m. This exceptional opportunity to experience professionally trained musicians is one not to be missed. Additional performances and events for the Children’s Choir include a performance with The Phil on Sunday March 10 at 3 p.m. at the Grand Wayne Center and a concert on March 12 at 7:30 at the Rhinehart Recital Hall, IPFW Rhinehart Recital Music Center. The Children’s Choir will also host Children’s Choir Festival in May hosting students, educators, and parents from Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, and Rockford.