The Innovation Show Choir, a community-based youth performing ensemble, has been the recipient of a city of Santa Clarita Community Arts Grant for the past two years in a row, utilizing funds to enhance and expand children’s programs in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Innovation Show Choir, a music-in-motion ensemble, typically performs a wide variety of musical genres, with kids ranging in age from 8 to 18, at local venues, such as the Bella Vida Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, Light Up Main Street and The Boys & Girls Club’s Festival of Trees, among others.
The choir’s Christmas recital went completely online with a digital concert, then in the spring, the choir got creative, utilizing the newly purchased equipment to produce music videos.
The city’s first grant allowed the choir to fund the purchase of recording equipment just in the nick of time before the pandemic hit, which ultimately forced the choir to transition to completely virtual programming.
“We were just finding a niche, a way to be able to still add joy to people’s lives, but in a restricted pandemic,” said Katina Childs-Muller, producer, director and choreographer.
The choir gathered any and all help they could get, including utilizing director of marketing Carissa Ferro’s film degree, her husband’s video editing experience and parents’ assistance to create the videos.
“We had the kids record their vocal parts at home, and a sound mixer mixed all their voices together, so they could sing together, and then we made three music videos,” Ferro said. “It was so meaningful for the kids to be able to come together and create something in a safe way after being apart for so long.”
“Just seeing the joy of them having that moment was worth months of Zoom,” Childs-Muller added.
Now, funds in the choir’s second year of receiving the grant are enabling them to move into a permanent rehearsal space at Westfield Valencia Town Center.
Having outgrown its old location, and with the new 3,500-square-foot space ready for action, the choir’s parent organization, Santa Clarita Music and Dance Collaborative, is looking forward to creating additional ensembles, including hip hop, adult fitness, film production and beginner show choir programs for younger children, among others.
“We’re just trying to find niches that don’t have an excess of programs and be able to expand those items that are more needed versus (programs) that are already existing,” Childs-Muller said.
The first of these programs, a show choir training program that offers music, dance and art enrichment for ages 4-8, just launched, with no auditions or requirements to join. Songbirds is set to begin Sept. 18 and culminate in a showcase at the end of October.
Additionally, the choir has partnered with Agape Village, a local homeschool co-op that works with high-school or recently graduated students with special needs to provide them with attainable opportunities, who are set to use the studio space weekdays for classes, according to teachers Jessica Escorza and Tim Smith.
“Our goal for our community of students we have, we want to get them into businesses, so being here will allow us to network to volunteer at stores,” Escorza said.
Innovation Show Choir is also seeking experienced singers and dancers from third through 12th grade to join its new fall 2021 season ensemble.
Auditions for the ensemble are taking place now through the start of rehearsals on Sept. 11 by appointment only at the nonprofit’s new studio, where potential choristers are set to perform 16 bars of a prepared solo and learn a basic dance routine.