WELCOME to the BIJA Children's Choir, Sebastopol’s own world folk chorus for young people ages 7-14 who love to sing, serving over 800 students since 2007.
Through engaging, Dalcroze Rhythmics-inspired weekly choral classes and vibrant multicultural performances, students develop music literacy and performance skills, becoming young ambassadors of harmony for the community and the world beyond.
*BIJA is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning 'creative seed.'
NEXT SEASON BEGINS SEPTEMBER 20th. Click HERE to join our mailing list & we'll send you a notice when pre-registration opens in July.
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WINTER 2018 sESSION RUNS JANUARY 11 - MARCH 22, 2018
Tuesdays 3:30-4:30pm Treble Choir (multi-generational female vocal ensemble by audition or invitation)
Thursdays 3:30-4:15pm Preparatory Choir (7-12 yrs, no audition; 6.5 yr olds by director's discretion)
4:30-5:30pm Concert Choir (8-14 yrs by audition or invitation)
Thursday classes are held at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, Youth Annex Hall, Morris Street, and Tuesday Treble Choir rehearses at a private studio in central Sebastopol. Students may join at the start of the season in September (and space permitting in January for Preparatory Choir only). Auditioned-level choirs are a full-season commitment.
ABOUT THE BIJA CHILDREN'S CHOIR CLASSES
Classes meet weekly, leveled by age and ability:
The Bija Preparatory Choir is open to ages 7-12 without an audition (and to mature 6yr olds as permitted by director), 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 at choir-wide events for the community.
The Bija Concert Choir is open to ages 8-12 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 at local venues throughout the season and are featured in the Annual Bija Story Concert that collaborates with guest artists from Sonoma County and the Bay Area.
The Bija Select Choir is a group of seasoned Concert Choir students selected for their musical ability, excellent attitude and composure, and strong attendance record. This group rehearses with the Concert Choir and participates in additional special community performance projects.
The Bija Treble Choir is a multi-generational female vocal ensemble run privately by Maria Bija open to teen girls and women by audition or invitation, performing advanced-intermediate classic choral and world music arrangements for community benefit events and special projects, particularly promoting adolescent girls' education worldwide.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about choir placement.
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). To visit Maria's vocal performance website, click HERE. 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, Abrazu and Kindred Voices. She is the founder and Creative 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 Sonoma County, promoting local sustainability and gender equality in the way she creatively and thoughtfully leads her life in the performing arts.
Annemarie Goslow-Zwicker & Colleen Toner-Rogers
Outside of Bija Choir rehearsals, Annemarie Goslow-Zwicker is an elementary classroom teacher & Colleen Toner-Rogers runs West County Music Together. Both have many years of experience with children and singing in addition to performing with the women's vocal ensemble, Kindred Voices.
While Colleen is gone to France on Sabbatical this year, Annemarie assists in handling registration, costume orders and concert-time matters. and continues to work with Bija Concert & Treble Choir sections in the development of harmony skills.