Local director draws inspiration, energy from Athens Children’s Chorus

I’m a big fan of Athens Children’s Chorus!

Luke Abaffy for The Post

Teaching 45 music classes, working with about 600 children and directing a chorus of nearly 40 singers is all in a week’s work for the director of the Athens Children’s Chorus.

Melanie Horne has been directing the chorus for 11 years and is also an affiliate faculty member of the Ohio University School of Music.

“I love seeing the ‘aha’ moment,” Horne said. “When a child makes a connection, like finding their head voice, for the first time.”

Horne’s work with the children throughout the year will be displayed at 7 tonight in the Robert Glidden Recital Hall during the chorus’ final performance of the year. The concert is free and open to the public. The chorus will be accompanied by OU graduate student and clarinetist Brian McLemore, pianist Sara Golden and Assistant Director of the chorus Katie McGonagle.

Although Horne said she has always loved singing, she didn’t have her first opportunity to work with a children’s chorus until her senior year at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

“I had an amazing choral director in college, and found that I was most passionate about teaching younger children, even though I enjoy – and have taught – choral music at lots of levels,” Horne said.

Horne also teaches general music at East and West Elementary Schools in Athens, and said it’s hard to keep track of her schedule.

“I have a very active, busy day job,” Horne said. “But I always gain energy by working with the chorus. They’re such great kids.”

McGonagle, a senior music education major said she really likes directing the kids too.

“They’re all really cute, and so full of energy,” McGonagle said.

Sometimes that energy gets out of hand, said Golden, a graduate student studying music education. This happens around the same time each month.

“The most interesting thing is to come around the full moon,” Golden said. “The kids’ energy is crazy then.”

Horne said she hasn’t noticed a specific time when the children are less attentive, but rather has learned to always be ready for surprises when working with kids.

“I never know exactly what to expect,” Horne said. “It’s part of the fun of my job.”

Members of the chorus range in age from seven to 14, and have performed with the Singing Men of Ohio, Women’s Chorale and the OU Opera’s production of Hansel and Gretel.

“I love watching the group go from kids who don’t know each other to a connected group who support each other and sing beautifully together,” Horne said.

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