Lab School kids to sing at D.C. concert

When 10-year-old  Pascale Boonstra of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools received a long-awaited letter from a national music organization to perform at a Washington, D.C. concert, she squealed with delight as she ripped through her home, dumbfounding her siblings.


“I ran from the kitchen, through the dining room, foyer, living room, past the bathroom and into the kitchen again – three times,” Pascale says. “Then my brother and sister asked me what I was doing and I told them I had been accepted.”


Pascale is one of three fourth graders from the Hyde Park school selected to sing in the 2009 National Kodaly Children’s Choir, which will be performing Saturday evening.


About 450 kids from all over the country were picked via audition tapes submitted by their music teachers last year.


This week, the kids will attend an intense three-day rehearsal session in preparation for the 2-hour Saturday concert, which marks the Organization of American Kodaly Educator’s 35th anniversary this year.


“I’m happy, but oh gosh, I have butterflies in my stomach,” says Alexandria du Buclet, one of the other Lab kids selected.


The trio’s journey to the nation’s capital began last year, when their music teacher Crystal Schlieker, who’s an OAKE member, sent in audition tapes of the students, each singing the national patriotic song,“America the Beautiful.”


The students were picked to audition by Schlieker because they not only excelled at singing but also had the focus and energy needed to sustain long days of rehearsal for the concert, she says.


The trip will be an important learning experience for the kids, who’d never get such exposure at school, says Pascale’s mom, Amy Boonstra, who’ll be accompanying her daughter on the trip


“We’re really excited about the opportunity to go,” Boonstra says. “It’s terrific for fourth graders to meet others who have talent across the country.”


OAKE began about 35 years ago to further the teaching philosophy of Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály.


The group’s philosophy centers around the basic belief that every child is entitled to music literacy. It stresses listening, singing, reading and writing music and uses folk songs in the early stages of teaching.