By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
After four semesters in the Eastern New Mexico Children’s Choir, 10-year-old Kylie Niece of Portales said she’s seen shy newcomers blossom.
“I have seen people just let their voice come out,” said the aspiring singer who desires to mash up rock and country.
The current group of 25 children is no different.
The choir’s director Heather Vest has been credited by her students with taking their raw talents and polishing them into a gem of rich harmonious sound, which rang through the classroom Friday night at the Eastern New Mexico University’s University Theatre Center.
The group, open to children in grades 3-8 from Roosevelt and Curry counties, opened for ENMU’s University Singers at its holiday concert Friday. Th includese children were getting warmed up for what’s to come Monday.
The children will showcase their hard work at their holiday concert Monday at ENMU’s Buchanan Hall in the music building.
First-timer Paige Cowart of Clovis said she’s seen the group grow in the last four months.
Cowart, 11, considers herself a quadruple threat because she plays piano, dances, sings and acts. She found her love for music in church.
She’s interested in becoming a Christian hip-hop artist because she likes fast-paced music that also preaches the word of God.
She said Vest has taught her the essentials to bring her toward her dreams.
“I learned different pitches of music,” Cowart said.
In addition to learning new skills, Cowart said new friends were a benefit of joining the choir.
While her favorite holiday songs are “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Joy to the World,” she’s excited to perform songs from the choir’s repertoire, especially the song “Cold and Fugue Season” by famed Composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
“It’s about how children really want to sing for everyone but they’re sick,” Cowart said.
For Jazmin Garza, the only singing she was doing was at home before she joined choir. Now the 11-year-old is excited to be performing in her first show.
She feels Vest has prepared her to be her best.
“Ms. Vest taught me how to sing, breathing, and how to be loud,” Garza said. “The best part of choir is doing the concerts.”
Thallan Schwartz is not only new to the choir, he’s new to the area.
The 9-year-old moved here with his parents from Louisiana because his father was hired as a music educator.
Schwartz, who is visually impaired, has helped the choir keep its comedic spirit with his jokes and his white cane nicknamed Jack.
The aspiring drummer said he’s learned a lots of songs. He feels his experience in choir helped him connect to what he loves.
“I feel like I’ve learned how to interact with music.”