When the first Territorial Youth Chorus (TYC) was formed in 2014 it marked a bold step forward in vocal music development in the Central Territory.
“At the time when TYC was first being proposed,” explained its director Joe Caddy, “we realized that even our top vocalists at Central Music Institute (CMI) would only be involved with Salvation Army choral music making at music camp or CMI. Students who weren’t involved with choir at school weren’t making significant progress from year to year, so we wanted to find a way to stimulate their continued development as singers and musicians for more than just one or two weeks out of the year.”
For the first time, teens and young adults (ages 13-25) were invited to join a composite territorial music group which would meet only once or twice per season for a weekend of rehearsal and music ministry. The group’s impact was readily apparent from the very first rehearsal that February. The young singers bonded quickly as an ensemble and rose to challenges presented to them by the advanced repertoire.
Encouraging them along the way has been a group of purposefully placed “mentor singers”—members of the Bill Booth Theater Company and other experienced vocalists from the territory whose presence in the group has been intended to not only model musical excellence but to foster multigenerational relationships and impart hard-won wisdom of how effective ministry extends beyond musical performance.
Entering its fifth year, TYC has grown in ability and number with all 10 divisions represented in this year’s group. Some original members have ascended to being “mentor singers,” and the group is preparing to collaborate with the Eastern Territorial Songsters as part of their Singing Stars event this October in New York.
The territorial music and gospel arts department could not be more pleased with how the Territorial Youth Chorus program has unfolded in its relatively short existence.
“It has been a catalyst of many exciting developments both musically and, especially, spiritually,” Joe said. “I have had many experienced musicians, peers and older, tell me how much they wish something like this was available when they were younger.”