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January 4, 2005 > Schola Cantorum: Youth Music Academy

Schola Cantorum: Youth Music Academy

by Praveena Raman

On Dec. 5, community members of the Tri-City area were treated to Handel's Christmas Messiah, a family sing-along for young voices at the Old Mission San Jose in Fremont. The Schola Cantorum singers from the Youth Music Academy of the Fremont TriCities together with a Chamber Orchestra performed at the event.

Schola Cantorum, which means School of Singers and was the traditional name for choirs in the 15th century, was founded in October 2002 by Connie Fortunato, an internationally recognized expert in the development and implementation of children's choirs in Christian worship and a published composer of children's choir music.

When it was first established, the choral program was open to children in fifth through eighth grades. In 2003 the academy expanded to include a training choir, Schola Cantorum I, for children in second through fourth grades and a Handbell choir for children in sixth through eighth grades. "Schola Cantorum is a dynamic choral program for the children and young people of the Fremont Tri-Cities area," said Fortunato.

The program focuses on vocal development, technique and choral singing. In Schola Cantorum I children are trained to sing in unison and learn two-part songs from a repertoire of classical, spiritual and Broadway songs. In Schola Cantorum II children advance to learn three-part selections from different styles and periods and music literacy. Both the levels of Schola Cantorum perform for different community events, though performances by Schola Cantorum I are limited. The Handbell choir teaches children to work together and learn the different skills required of a musician. They perform together with Schola Cantorum I and II at various events.

In the past few years the singers have performed for the Annual Night of Giving at the NewPark Mall, Fremont Bank's gala, organized to honor its founder Morris Hyman, a benefit concert for children in the Ukraine and Romania enabling these children to attend music camps, and most recently, at the 2004 "State of the City Address" at Fremont City Hall. Apart from these events the singers have performed during Christmas at Mission San Jose, and at Holy Cross Church which is next to the old the Santa Cruz Mission.

Fortunato has been involved in music education for over 30 years. She is a graduate of Wheaton College with degrees in both music and literature. She has been an adjunct professor at the graduate level, conducted training seminars and worked as a consultant throughout the United States. Her work on the study of brain development and the theory of multiple intelligences and modalities has made her approach to music education successful internationally.

The Academy accepts new students in September and January. The spring semester starts on Jan. 12 and is open to the community. Classes are conducted on Wednesdays at the Fremont Community Church, 38700 Mission Blvd, Fremont. Schola Cantorum I (grades 2-4) is from 3:00 - 4:15 p.m.; Schola Cantorum II (grades 5-8) is from 4:30-6:00 p.m. and the Handbell Choir (grades 6-8) is from 2:10-2:50 p.m. There is a required parent meeting at the beginning of each semester and a registration fee of $15 in addition to the tuition fee. For more information contact Laura Cinquini, assistant to Pastor Sherman Williams, at (510) 657-0123 ext. 163 or email to or contact Connie Fortunato at

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