Arts and Entertainment

Girls choir sings in ‘Hansel and Gretel’

For the fourth year, members of the Snoqualmie Valley Girls Choir will lend their voices to the Bellevue Opera, this time for two late-November performances of “Hansel and Gretel.”

The Snoqualmie Valley Girls Choir has previously performed with the Bellevue Opera during productions of “La Boheme,” “The Magic Flute” and “Carmen.” Each time, the girls relish the opportunity to work with the Opera’s professional musicians and enhance their abilities.

The Snoqualmie Valley Girls choir was founded in 2004 with the intent of giving young girls an outlet for singing and performing outside of regular school programs. The choir is open to any girl between 9 and 17, and previous choir experience is not required as the Snoqualmie Girls Choir serves to teach as well as perform.

Members of the choir take part in weekly practice sessions at Cascade View Elementary School, where Musical Director Laurie Hancock covers skills like reading music and vocal technique.

The choir gets a chance to show off those skills during two formal concerts in the winter and spring. In addition, the choir takes part in various community and charity events during the year, such as caroling at the Santa Train, community Christmas bazaars, and women’s homeless shelters.

The Snoqualmie Valley Girls Choir also participates in the annual Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition in Seattle, which benefits the Pike Place Market Senior Center and Food Bank.

The choir also takes part in competitions like the Heritage Festival, a challenging event in which the girls earned a gold ranking last spring.

“These are all really excellent musicians,” Hancock said. “They just want to raise the bar.”

This is Hancock’s first year as music director for the choir, and so far she has been very impressed with the girls.

Hancock is aiming to challenge the choir by exposing the girls to many different types of musical styles, such as folk songs, choral literature and holiday music. She also wants the choir to experience singing in different languages, and has brought in works performed in Russian, Hebrew, French and Korean.

“I like to expose the girls to a lot of languages,” Hancock said.

Sandy Hambrick, the choir’s accompanist and pianist, has been with the group all five years of its existence.

In preparation for the upcoming Bellevue Opera performances, the 14 members of the choir who will be participating have been working with two former Snoqualmie Valley Girls Choir members, Holly and Grace Madland, to ready themselves.

The Madlands have experience working with the opera and are an ideal bridge between the choir and the Bellevue Opera.

Hansel and Gretel will be performed at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center, 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30.

“I just can’t wait to see it,” Hancock said. “I’m really proud of these girls.”

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