America's leading youth choral institution, the National Children’s Chorus (NCC) is hosting auditions Saturday, April 27 at St. Paul the Apostle School in Los Angeles and Tuesday, April 30 at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York.
The Los Angeles auditions also include a special focus on building the organization's Scholars Tenor / Bass program for junior and high school male students as well as elementary school-age boys whose voices are changing.
NCC’s artistic director Luke McEndarfer who will oversee the auditions along with associate artistic director Dr. Pamela Blackstone said the new Scholars program for voice change students is an important one for the organization. "We enjoy our reputation for cultivating solid treble performers and last September started rounding out our program to include students whose voices are changing and who are ready for tenor and bass training. We currently have six participating and would like to add 10 – 14 more at our spring auditions."
McEndarfer, who is credited with taking the group bi-coastal in 2010, emphasized the organization's growing appeal and value in light of reduced budgets for music education. “The National Children's Chorus is the great equalizer for students with vocal talent who may or may not have the financial means or access to music education. Especially in light of public school budget cuts, our program is more impactful than ever as many of our students would have missed the opportunity to explore their musical abilities had they not auditioned and taken advantage of our world-class training and performance experiences."
The night before the Los Angeles auditions, the NCC is hosting "I've Got Rhythm" Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. benefiting the organization's music curriculum and honoring UCLA's and NCC's compositional director Dr. Ian Krouse. The NCC's most advanced vocalists and members of the organization's Debut and Premier ensembles will perform the music of George Gershwin and other jazz composers at the festive event hosted at a private Holmby Hills residence in Los Angeles. Tickets are $175 and VIP tickets are $275 and can be purchased online atwww.nationalchildrenschorus.
The NCC offers two divisions. The junior division, for those with beginning or intermediate experience, is offered for ages 5 through 12 and the senior division, for students with prior music experience, is offered for ages 10 years and older.
The junior division consists of the Prelude Level, the Minuet Level and the Sonata Level. This division can audition with little or no musical experience and, if chosen, will have the opportunity to build their skills and gain confidence in encouraging, creative rehearsal environments and two performances per year at St. Paul the Apostle Church in West Los Angeles or The Church of St. Paul the Apostle near Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Junior division students are rated on scales to evaluate the tone quality of the voice, rhythmic exercises to evaluate rhythmic precision, pitch matching to evaluate intonation, question and answer session to evaluate attitude, personality, manners and behavior.
The senior division consists of the Debut Ensemble, the Premier Ensemble and the Scholars. In this division, students with significant prior choral, musical, solo or vocal performance can refine their skills to the highest professional standards and perform in their own state-of-the-art concert series at The Broad Stage and beyond.
Selection for the senior division is based on scales to evaluate the tone quality of the voice; rhythmic exercises to evaluate rhythmic precision; pitch matching to evaluate intonation, a question and answer session to evaluate attitude, personality, manners and behavior; and a solo piece. For the solo, the applicant chooses a song that best shows the student's vocal and expressive capability. The piece may be a cappella or with piano accompaniment. If accompanied, the applicant must bring music in the correct performance key.
A pianist, conductor and voice coach, McEndarfer has been artistic director since 2004 and is integral to all facets of the chorus’ development from spearheading auditions and vocal training, to choosing material, to fostering relationships and securing collaborations with artists and organizations.
McEndarfer oversees NCC’s extensive curriculum which includes college-level conducting, composition, music theory, sight-singing in the Kodály Method, and individual voice training in the bel canto style under the guidance of Michael Dean, department chair at the UCLA School of Music. Through a holistic approach to educating the total musician within each child, recent graduates from the program have gone on to be accepted at top schools around the country, such as USC’s Thornton School of Music, UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, UC Berkeley, the Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School.
McEndarfer is recognized for establishing the organization’s reputation for excellence and adventurous programming including numerous critically acclaimed interpretations of Poulenc’s Gloria, Mozart’sRequiem, and
Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna.
Forging unique performance relationships, he has also orchestrated concert appearances with a long list of artists and performing arts organizations that include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Opera Company, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Joffrey Ballet, Josh Groban, James Smith, Lucinda Carver, and soon, Grammy-winning soprano Jessica Rivera.
His work includes several motion picture soundtracks; most recently on Paramount Pictures’ 2009 feature film Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy. For the film, McEndarfer selected, arranged and conducted sections of the score and also appeared as the Music Teacher on screen. Television and radio credits include conducting performances in the musical act on Jay Leno’s former Tonight Show, and a live performance on KLSX as part of a 2005 Christmas special.