Main Street Singers History
The Main Street Singers, Inc.
A Community of Children’s Voices
Dr. Mary Ellen Junda, Artistic Director
A Brief History
July, 2001 – March, 2009
In the summer of 2001, South Church members and Richard Coffey, Minister of Music at South Church, began conversations with local teachers, educational administrators, the South Church pastors, its members and leaders, about a community children’s choir to reach out to the diverse population of children in New Britain. The church has a long and proud history of developing new programs as a mission to be “in the heart of the city, for the heart of the city.” At about the same time, the church made the very important decision to establish a Community Outreach Fund as part of a capital campaign, and a three-year appropriation for The Main Street Singers was approved. In 2003, we hired our professional leadership and planned our first semester. Rehearsals began on January 13, 2004, with the sounds of singing and laughter filling the halls of South Church, and The Main Street Singers (MSS) gave their first concert to an enthusiastic audience on May 1, 2004.
In the five years since MSS gave its first concert, the choir has performed for many local, regional, and national events. Locally, there are two performances yearly at South Church, along with performances at the New Britain Library, New Britain Tree Lighting Ceremony, a New Britain Rock Cats baseball game, and an annual tour of New Britain Schools with a concert at a local senior housing facility. They have been invited twice to perform at the renowned New Britain Museum of American Art. MSS has been the featured choir at conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, the Organization of American Kodály Educators, Eastern Region Conference of the Music Educators National Conference, and the Connecticut Music Educators Association. They have performed with the professional ensemble, Connecticut Choral Artists, and twice with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
In September, 2007, a Main Street Singers Elementary Choir was added for children in grades three and four with the goal of developing friendships and musical skills at an earlier age. Instruction focuses on creating a community of singers among a diverse group of children and preparing these children for the more advanced Main Street Singers program. The Elementary Choir has welcomed twenty-seven singers and is led by Ms. Suzanne O'Connor, who formerly served as Musicianship Director of MSS. The Middle School Choir, directed by Dr. Mary Ellen Junda, continues for children in grades five through eight, with about thirty-five voices joined in song.
“The Main Street Singers are an exceedingly well trained band of young singers, and their singing is positively infectious. No listener can avoid being swept into their joyous music making,” said Maestro Edward Cumming, Music Director and Conductor of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
New Britain’s Mayor Timothy Stewart commented in December, 2007: “Whether it is performing at the New Britain Tree Lighting ceremony, or in special concerts in our schools, at the library, in churches or in nursing homes, New Britain’s Main Street Singers remain one of our City’s cultural treasures. From their start in 2003, The Main Street Singers have offered youngsters in our community a wonderful opportunity to explore the joys of music and has given them an opportunity to develop self-confidence, self-discipline and self-expression through the pursuit of musical excellence. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have participated in this wonderful organization and commend them for the meaningful contributions they have made to the arts in New Britain.”
From the symphony hall to the ball field, these children share their joy of singing!