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Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus has openings

Zeth Sepulveda is starting his fourth year as a singer in the Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus.

“It’s fun and I like the places where we sing,” said the 13-year-old Riverview resident.

“Last year, we went to Disney, a Lightning game and a Rays game that had the most people I’ve ever sung in front of,” said Zeth, an eighth-grader at Benito Middle School.

His mother, Claudette Sepulveda, is awestruck by the high-quality, classically based choral music the youngsters learn, as well as the opportunity it gives them to interact with people of varied backgrounds and perform at venues they might not otherwise have the chance to visit.

“Seeing them perform makes me tingle and sometimes makes me cry,” she said. “I’m just so happy Zeth can be a part of it.”

Twelve-year-old Zanti Rains, of Temple Terrace, has returned for the third year as a chorus member. She hopes to one day sing in a professionally produced musical.

“I am doing this to become a better singer and I really enjoy being part of the chorus,” said Zanti, who currently attends Greco Middle School and has aspirations of going to Blake High’s magnet school for the visual, communication and performing arts.

In 2011 the chorus performed during the gubernatorial inauguration in Tallahassee, and in June of 2015 it will travel to New York City to sing in Carnegie Hall.

The TBCC’s 2014-15 schedule also includes performances during the International Day of Peace celebration at the Palladium in St. Petersburg, and a performance of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” with the Florida Orchestra and Master Chorale of Tampa Bay at the Straz Theater in Tampa, the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Log onto www.tbc chorus.org for times.

The chorus was founded in 1989 by the now retired University of South Florida associate professor of piano, Averill Summer.

“I just love the beauty of the children’s voices and it’s been such a special part of my life,” she said.

The chorus is divided into three separate choirs: Cantate is for children in grades two through five; Concert is for singers in the fifth grade and higher; and Chamber is meant for advanced-level singers.

Rehearsals are held Monday evenings at St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, 502 Druid Hills Road in Temple Terrace, and Tuesday nights at First Presbyterian Church, 701 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. However, the chorus has no religious affiliation with either church.

The Cantate singers practice 6-7 p.m. and the Concert and Chamber choirs rehearse 6-8 p.m.

Summer, the chorus’s artistic director, said she welcomes new boys and girls at both sites, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay the tuition.

“We’ve always wanted to include all sectors of our community in the Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus and make it available to any child who wants to sing,” she said.

Dr. Mark Rains, a USF geology professor and Zanti’s father, is board president of the chorus. He is especially keen on the idea of including all children with an interest in and the ability to sing.

“That’s what really attracted me in the first place,” he said. “We have needs-based scholarships funded through donations and grants.”

Auditions are held both prior to and following each rehearsal. To schedule a date and time, visit the TBCC website.

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