Arsht-Cannon Fund Provides $15,000 in Renewed Support
to the
Neighborhood Choir Program

Oberle Neighborhood Choir students practicing songs and musicianship skills with their director, Nicolette Fernandez.

Oberle Neighborhood Choir students practicing songs and musicianship skills
with their director, Nicolette Fernandez.

WILMINGTON, Del. – OperaDelaware announced today that its Neighborhood Choir program has received $15,000 in new funds from the Arsht-Cannon Fund.  These dollars will ensure that this program for children in underserved communities remains strong and viable in 2016.

Approximately 150 children receive the gift of music during after school programs at Lewis Elementary School and the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington, and at Oberle Elementary School in Bear.  The project is overseen by Kimberly Doucette, OperaDelaware’s education director.  Doucette also is artistic director for the 150-member Wilmington Children’s Chorus.

“We are delighted to continue this program, and we’re grateful that the Arsht-Cannon Fund recognizes the importance of delivering high-quality music education to students in underserved communities,” said OperaDelaware General Director Brendan Cooke.  “These dollars ensure that we eliminate any barriers children might face in receiving after-school music training.”

Cooke added that those barriers sometimes can be significant.

“Consider a child who loves to sing, but whose parents work long hours after school or can’t afford music training. Under this program, transportation and financial barriers are eliminated simply by bringing the choir training to the school or community center.”

This “satellite-site” model for musical training has been used with great success as exemplified by the Chicago Children’s Choir’s use of neighborhood choirs.  By having community center or school staff participate in the operation of the program, children are assured they receive the support they need to attend rehearsals and practice the music.

Students in this year’s Neighborhood Choirs, who range in age from Kindergarten to fifth grade, are busily getting ready for their winter concerts.

“While the students are eager to show all they’ve learned, we also know this program is more than concerts,” Doucette said.  “In our work with the Wilmington Children’s Chorus, we’ve learned that exposure to musical training and the arts can be life-changing for children in underserved communities. This project makes it easy for more children to grow through a curriculum that values beautiful singing and musicianship while developing leadership, focus and positive social interaction.”

“The WCC is very gifted at training young voices,” Cooke said. “We believe that the musical foundation and solid vocal technique that the WCC provides will increase our pool of talented singers and, perhaps more importantly, future audience members who are excited and moved by the sound of the unamplified human voice. That’s a win for us, for the arts community, and for the students as well.”

OperaDelaware and the Wilmington Children's Chorus have teamed up to bring NEIGHBORHOOD CHOIRS to the Wilmington Community, including the Latin American Community Center and Oberle Elementary


OperaDelaware is a professional non-profit opera company with a reputation for excellence in both opera and arts education. Our mission is to enrich the cultural lives of adults, families and students within the Mid-Atlantic region through meaningful arts education and the production of grand opera and intimate opera concerts, featuring established and emerging talent.

The Wilmington Children’s Chorus is a multi-cultural children’s choir sponsored in part by the City of Wilmington, Dennis P. Williams, Mayor, as a project of Cityfest, Inc.  Any qualified child can participate for free, regardless of financial or social background.  This program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.  To donate or audition for the WCC, please visit www.wilmingtonchildrenschorus.org.