Over the past four months, Thirty-two kids from Niagara have started to become a family. The group has already held their inaugurable performance and met with Dallas Smith. Together, they have formed Tomorrow’s Voices, a youth choir started by Associate Professor of Marketing at Brock University, Todd Green, and his business partner Mendelt Hoekstra, a music therapist and director of Momentum Choir.
Tomorrow’s Voices is a part of Choir Nation, a company owned by Green and Hoekstra, whose purpose is to teach people to sing; currently Choir Nation teaches companies, charitable organizations, conference attendees, and Brock staff and students, to name a few. Green and Hoekstra wanted a charitable aspect of the company, and that dream became Tomorrow’s Voices.
The singers, who range in age from seven to 17, were recruited from Community Care in St. Catharines and Thorold, Big Brothers and Sisters of St. Catharines and the DSBN Academy. “We wanted to provide a way for kids to come together and sing that was free from any barriers,” said Green. “We [wanted to invite] kids who don’t currently have the opportunity to sing in a choir. We also really believe in the positive impact music can have on the kids.”
For many of the kids, coming to rehearsal is a highlight of their week. They express excitement about making new friends and getting opportunities to learn to sing and showcase that ability.
There are dozens behind the scenes to help make things happen. Tomorrow’s Voices was able to begin thanks to the generosity of TD Bank Group, who provided funding for the choir. The Dramatic Arts Department at Brock and the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts provide rehearsal space and assist with the logistics. Their marketing agency, Chimpanzee, developed Tomorrow’s Voices’ logo. Finally, Coventry Transportation helps to bring the singers to and from rehearsal each week.
Tomorrow’s voices had their inaugural performance this past Wednesday evening at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Center. They performed with Royal Wood and also sang some of their own songs. The singers are also looking forward to meeting and performing with Serena Ryder in Burlington on Dec. 14 during the Juno Award winner’s show.
Although a choir’s main goal is for their voices to join together in beautiful harmonies, Tomorrow’s Voices is about so much more than that. The name itself points to the choir’s greater purpose: “I wanted to express that the kids will be future leaders of tomorrow and one way to do that is to give them an opportunity to find their voice . . . Our slogan is Kids Should Be Heard which is the antithesis to ‘kids should be seen but not heard’ . . . As for the community impact, we want to showcase the amazing talent the kids have and to show how good music is for bringing people together of all ages and backgrounds,” explained Green. “We are hoping for and so far have seen a sense of community developing. We also have exceptional leaders in the group who take responsibility by handing out the sheet music [and helping] our music director setup and clean the room .
Green and Hoekstra love what has begun with Tomorrow’s Voices, and eventually hope to see the choir expand. “Right now we have 32 kids in the choir and we can accommodate about 40 so we will recruit in January again,” said Green. His hopes, however, don’t end there: “Ultimately, I would like to see it in every major city in Canada. It would take quite a while to build the capacity and resources to do that, but we always saw St Catharines as a pilot site and a model to use elsewhere.”