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Colla Voce developing student music program

By: Marci Seither, special to the Journal
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When Alta resident Janine Dexter looks into faces of Colla Voce choir members she sees more than medical professionals, teachers, wine makers and stay-at-home moms. She sees people who are passionate about music. “It is more than just singing – It is about giving something back to the world we live in,” said Dexter, who has had a full career in music and is now close to achieving a master’s degree in choral directing from California State University, Los Angeles. The nonprofit organization rehearses weekly in Meadow Vista for the professional-quality pieces that are performed at local venues, often to sold-out audiences. “We were not looking for professional singers, but good singers who had the capability and passion to grow into a group who could perform at professional level group,” Dexter said. Larry Dorety, of Auburn, is one of the board members who has sung with Colla Voce since the group’s establishment and is excited to see the new developments. “When we first started out, our goal was to be one of the best choral groups in the foothills,” said the baritone. “Now, we want to share it with the community all year long and be a platform to help inspire others.” Under the counsel of board president Dr. Jim McGregor to “do one thing at a time and do it well, then add something new,” the group drew up a goal and mission statement that included expanding its program considerably. The chamber is going into its seventh year. Two years ago, with the full support of the board, Dexter began working with area youth, ages 6 to 10, who recently performed for residents of Emerald Hills Retirement Home in Auburn. Now, the group is getting to launch what many consider a grassroots program to impact local classrooms. With a clear vision of contributing to the development and expansion of the arts culture and education, the Colla Voce board pursued and received a music grant in which they have been developing a music docent program. The group hopes the program will be available for a handful of local schools starting in January. “The funding for music and the arts just isn’t available anymore,” Dexter said. “We can either spend our time and energy complaining about it, or we could use our energy and effort to do something positive. We have to take ownership of the education of our youth and bring music back into the classrooms.” The music docent program will start with a lesson every other week in which volunteers will use a full curriculum incorporating visual and hands-on learning will be taught starting in fourth grade and moving up. “It would be great to eventually have a program that covers fourth- through eighth-graders so that when they hit high school they have a certain level of musical background,” Dexter said. The Colla Voce board is pleased with the group’s growth. They hope to one day provide a choral program for developmentally disabled adults, a seniors choir, a year-round instrumental program and a creative arts charter high school. “This is a very exciting season,” reflected Dexter. “Hopefully this gift of music will last for generations to come.”