WELCOME to the Bija Children's Choir, a 501c3 nonprofit program deeply dedicated to educating and inspiring young people in Sonoma County who love to sing, as well as enriching the community through quality multicultural performances. Bija is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning creative seed, representing the Bija Choir's mission of sowing seeds of musical capability, confidence, and creativity among Sonoma County's youth.
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Cheers to the turn of the new year 2017, marking the mid-season point for the Bija Children's Choir's 7th full season. So far, our Harvest Concert & Silent Auction Social in November was a great success! Thanks to all who came to support and enjoy. And, our December performances at the Sebastopol Tree Lighting Ceremony and at The Bob Burke's Kids Program Benefit in Occidental were festive and soulful, followed by our Community Holiday Classes where friends joined in, and students brought warm socks to donate to The Living Room women & children's day shelter in Santa Rosa before the month-long break.
Now that we've returned in the new year, the next performance to come is our 7th annual Storyconcert event on Sunday March 12th at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center 2-5pm. This year's event features indigenous and Brazilian-themed music, dance and storytelling. We're thrilled to have Ane Carla Rovetta telling the Amazon rainforest folktale, The Wings of A Butterfly. More program info, special guest and ticket details coming very soon!
Also a special CAPOEIRA-MANDINGA WORKSHOP is being offered by Julie Amazonas Velichinsky for Bija Choir families and friends on WED FEB 15th 3:30pm, to enrich the Storyconcert Festival experience... see flyer below. Those who show up and love it have the opportunity to continue studying a few more weeks with Julie, and performing in her opening act on March 12th before the Storyconcert.
THE 2016-17 SEASON meets at the following CLASS SCHEDULE:
Tuesdays 3:30-4:15pm Jr Preparatory Choir (6-7yrs) Healdsburg (NEW)
Wednesdays 4:15-5:15pm Treble Choir (13+ by audition) Sebastopol
Thursdays 2:30-3:15pm Junior Rhythmics Choir (5-6yrs) Sebastopol
3:30-4:15pm Preparatory Choir (7-12 yrs)
4:30-5:15pm Concert Choir (8-14 yrs)
Thursday classes are held at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 South High St., and Wednesday Treble Choir rehearses at a private studio in central Sebastopol. Tuesday classes are held at the Old Felta Schoolhouse in Healdsburg. Students may enter beginner level classes at the start of September or January. Auditioned choirs are a full-season commitment and mid-season acceptance is at the discretion of the director.
ABOUT THE BIJA CHILDREN'S CHOIR CLASSES
Classes meet weekly, leveled by age and ability:
The Bija Junior Choir classes are open to ages 5-6 without an audition, offering an introduction to choir through the full body approach of Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Junior Choir students perform three times a year at either choir-wide events or smaller occasions just for families, and the emphasis is on developing music listening skills, introducing students to basic elements of music theory through movement, and cultivating a joy for singing in ensemble.
The Bija Jr Preparatory Choir is a special offering in Healdsburg, open to ages 6-7 without an audition, incorporating the movement-based activities of Dalcroze Eurhythmics with foundational choral training. Students participate in choir-wide annual performances.
The Bija Preparatory Choir is open to ages 7-12 without an audition, and introduces children to basic choral concepts of solfege singing, music theory through movement, multicultural repertoire, simple rhythmic dances, and developing a beautiful unison sound. Preparatory Choir students perform three times a year at annual choir-wide events for the community.
The Bija Concert Choir is open to ages 8-14 by audition or invitation, and works with multicultural repertoire in two and three part harmonies, as well as movement choreographies and rhythmic percussion accompaniment. Music theory principles such as meter, phrase, notation, and form are taught through the movement principles of Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Concert Choir students perform in three annual concerts and are featured in the Spring Story Concert that collaborates with guest artists from the Bay Area, as well as perform for various other local community events.
The Bija Treble Choir is an a cappella-style singing group run privately by Maria Bija for older girls and women by audition or invitation, performing advanced-intermediate classic choral and world music arrangements for community benefit events and special projects. Music theory through Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Solfege are incorporated into rehearsals, and studio recordings and travel tours are also in the forecast for future seasons.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about placement in Concert and Treble Choirs.
To pre-register for the next session of Bija Children's Choir classes, click here.
ABOUT FOUNDING & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MARIA BIJA
Maria Bija is a classically-trained musician with a passion for world music and dance. Born in Boston, MA to an Italian mother and English American father-- both very naturally- musical parents with great rhythm and perfect sense of pitch and harmony, Maria began singing at her earliest age and showed early abilities at the piano. For eight formative years she studied with Polish concert pianist, Ronald Kmiec of Carlisle, Massachusetts.
By her teenage years, Maria began her professional vocal career, recording corporate commercial jingles and singing jazz, r&b, country, and folk styles, with her major influences at the time including Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bonnie Raitt. Later in her college years, Maria studied abroad in Italy, India, Ghana, and Brazil, and sang with samba bands in Boston, paving the way to her lifelong love of Brazilian music.
Maria earned her Master's of Music degree in Dalcroze Eurhythmics in 1997 under the tutelage of Lisa Parker, and has since incorporated Dalcroze movement-based teaching principles in her music classes for all ages and levels of ability. Understanding the crucial role of movement in teaching/learning music, she honors the belief that the first instrument is the body.
Over the past decades, Maria has recorded numerous albums, one of which won a Parents Choice Award ("World Family Folk Celebration", available on CDBaby) and another spent 3yrs under contract with Challenge Records of the Netherlands (Blue Brazil: Gema). As a mother of two, she created the Musical Mothering program for young families in Napa Valley, and world music ensembles such as Twin Souls, Blue Brazil, and recently a new performance project 'ABRAZU'. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Bija Children's Choir in Sonoma County. Maria plans to travel abroad once again in the coming years and collaborate with musicians internationally, while at the same time continues to nurture her home community in Sebastopol, promoting local sustainability in the way she creatively and thoughtfully leads her life in the performing arts.
COLLEEN TONER-ROGERS, CLASS ASSISTANT
Colleen Toner-Rogers is the Bija Children's Choir's Class Assistant. Outside of class, she directs of the West County Music Together program, and has many years of experience with children and music, in addition to performing with the women's vocal ensemble, Kindred Voices. She assists in the Bija classes as needed, handles registration and concert-time matters. She also works with sections of the Concert & Treble Choir classes, assisting in the development of harmony skills.