Girls’ Choir of Springfield (formerly known as "Springfield-Drury Girls’ Choir”) is now an independent organization providing singing opportunities for girls in grades 2-8 in two choruses: “Songbirds” for second and third graders, and the main “Girls’ Choir” for girls in grades 4-8. Their next concert is a benefit for Dynamic Strides Therapy, and Brandi O’Reilly from Dynamic Strides Therapy joined us for “Arts News” along with Girls’ Choir of Springfield directors Alicia Lyons and Molly Faulkner.
“It’s been a really exciting couple of years” for the organization, says Alicia Lyons, who serves as Managing Director as well as conducting the main Girls’ Choir group. “As we started to speak about our vision for the organization and where we wanted to go, we realized that in order to start giving kids scholarship opportunities and doing community events on a larger scale, we needed to become independent. We were really fortunate that the administration at Drury saw and shared our vision, and allowed us to go independent in a really beautiful way.” The goal of the organization, says Lyons, is “musical excellence, but also teaching leadership to these girls, and how their voices can make a difference in the community.”
The choirs rehearse every Thursday, according to Alicia Lyons: the older girls from 6:00 to 7:30pm and the second and third graders from 6 to 7. All rehearsals take place at King’s Way United Methodist Church, 2401 S. Lone Pine—which is also the location for their upcoming concert on February 21 at 7:00pm.
Once the girls graduate from eighth grade, what’s next for them? “We are in the process of developing the group so that we can continue to offer musical opportunities for older girls as well.”
Molly Faulkner teaches and conducts the younger girls. “We have such a good time learning proper vocal presentation and diction—things they learn in their schools, probably, but we elaborate more on that.”
Brandi O’Reilly is Executive Director of Dynamic Strides Therapy, for which the GCS concert on the 21st is a benefit. “We are basically a non-profit pediatric outpatient therapy center. We’re unique in that we use a horse as one of our tools for therapy, which is called ‘hippotherapy.’ And we’re just now expanding to aquatic therapy, which we’re currently doing off-site at the Hilton Garden Inn on Republic Road (in Springfield). But we’re about to begin a big capital campaign to add on to our building and add a pool.” Their main facility is located at 2673 E Sawyer Road in Republic, MO, just west of the MM/James River Freeway intersection, and serves children with disabilities from birth to age 21. O’Reilly says they work with a wide variety of children, “from those who are just delayed in their development, to children with severe disabilities, to children with autism. So we see a lot of variety. And we offer occupational, physical and speech therapy to those children.”
While they currently lack their own pool on-site, Dynamic Strides does have a full equine therapy arena. “Our building is a full outpatient clinic with an arena on one end of it.” They have currently under construction what’s called a “sensory gym,” apparently the only one in the area. O’Reilly describes it as “a play area that’s really well thought-out in different sensory inputs for children that have sensory needs. Our therapists will have it as a tool for kids that need the swings, or we’ll have a zip line—a lot of different stuff going on in that space. Then once it’s complete, we will open it to the public, so there will be a fee to get in and use the gym. Throughout different hours of the day, families that have kids with sensory needs will be able to utilize that space.”
Girls’ Choir of Springfield’s concert on February 21st will not only raise money for Dynamic Strides Therapy, but as GCS Director Alicia Lyons says, but will also provide an informational video to offer “visibility to the community, so they can see the great work that Dynamic Strides is doing.” The Choir will take up a collection at the end of the concert, which is otherwise free and open to the public. In addition to the two girls’ choruses, the concert will feature guest artist, local singer/musician Faith Morgan. Lyons says the Choir “tries to select guest artists that exemplify leadership, and strong women in the community. And she is terrific, and a great composer, and has also done her own album. So she’s going to come with some original material, and share her process with us and the girls.”
Alicia Lyons calls the Girls’ Choir of Springfield—which currently consists of about 15 singers in the second-through-fourth-grade Songbirds, and about 35 in the older girls’ chorus—“a group of exceptional kids. So when you get the best talent from the Springfield community all in one room, it’s amazing what those girls can accomplish. A lot of it is tough music that they are able to tackle in a beautiful way. And they enjoy the challenge—they are all just so eager to be able to produce something exceptional.” Molly Faulkner, who directs the Songbirds, would like to see that group increase to 20 or 25 girls. They’ll hold auditions in March.