Parents band together to save children’s choir
By Emily Campbell
The news that the Handel Children’s Choir in Baltimore was being
disbanded because of financial constraints was almost too much to
bear for the 60 children who make up the chorus.
“Everyone was just stunned into silence. A few of the parents
and lot of the kids were crying. It was really distressing,” said
Nicole Schultheis, whose 12-year-old daughter, Cecile, participates
in the choir. “Even Melinda [O’Neal, the Artistic Director of the
Handel Choir of Baltimore] looked like she was going to cry.”
The announcement, made on Dec. 8 after rehearsal, was doubly
shocking because the children had just performed at the Kennedy
Center in D.C. on Dec. 6. “We also had just been issued formal
concert uniforms that all the parents paid for and couldn’t
return,” Schultheis said.
The Handel Children’s Choir’s parent organization, the Handel
Choir of Baltimore, received most of their funding from state
grants, as well as ticket sales. With the economy’s decline, ticket
sales are down and funding has steadily decreased, forcing the
organization to disband the Children’s Choir — 60 boys and girls,
ages 8 to 18.
Baltimore County firefighter Gary Bull’s three children are
enrolled in the choir — Elisabeth, 14, Micah, 11, and Abigail, 7.
The choir holds a special place in Bull’s heart, mainly because of
his son’s involvement. “My son has autism. At the age of three, his
combined language ability was that of a nine-month-old. So to see
him sing on stage with the other children is quite moving,” Bull
said. “The choir is a big part of our family for a lot of reasons,
and it was quite devastating.”