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Allegra: “Sisters in Singing” a new work by Aimee Mell

On June 15, 2013 at Seattle’s Town Hall all five levels of Seattle Girls’ Choir will premiere newly commissioned works. Composer and conductor Aimee Mell chose to write a new piece for Allegra, the SGC ensemble she also conducts.


Sisters in Singing

Music by Aimee Mell

Words by Aimee Mell & Allegra

When I decided to write a song for Allegra to celebrate our 30th Anniversary, I started to think about what is important to our SGC girls. Since I teach the choir where girls first attend our overnight camp at Ft. Flagler, I realized that the camp sister relationship is one that often carries beyond that one week of summer. I’ve also seen how seriously the older girls take their role. They oversee bouts of homesickness and scraped knees, and help their little sisters through thick and thin. Much of the music I write is not even completely tonal, and rarely is it in a lighter style like this. While I wrote the music, Allegra girls helped brainstorm words and ideas. I think this song simply an expression of the exuberance of this age group, and perhaps some channeling of my own inner-Allegra! -Aimee Mell

New works will also be premiered by SGC Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Dr. Jerome Wright, Seattle Composer John Muehleisen, Seattle Pro Musica Artistic Director Karen P. Thomas, and SGC alumnae Katie Bent and Amanda Kunz.

Tickets are available at 206-526-1900 or



Aimee Mell has taught music theory, sight-singing, composition, and music history at the high school and undergraduate levels. She has also taught middle and high school choir for over ten years in both public and private schools. She holds a B.M of Music Education (choral) from Washington State University, a M.M. in Music Composition from Butler University, and she is a Ph.D. Candidate in Music History at the University of Washington.  She has studied composition with Charles Argersinger (WSU), James Aikman (Butler U), and Michael Schelle (Butler U). She is also the recipient of an MENC National Composition Award, as well as the Lily Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant which allowed her to compose and to travel to The Gambia, Africa. Mell also serves as a board member for ACDA Washington (UNISON Editor), The Greater Seattle Choral Consortium, Simple Measures (Chamber Music, Advisory Board), and she spent six years as a board member for Seattle Opera affiliate groups.


Karen P. Thomas: “I Dwell in Possibility,” a new work for Cantamus

On June 15, 2013 at Seattle’s Town Hall all five levels of Seattle Girls’ Choir will premiere newly commissioned works. Composer Karen P. Thomas was commissioned to write for the Cantamus ensemble of Seattle Girls’ Choir directed by Alex Gagiu.


I Dwell in Possibility

Karen P. Thomas, poem: Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility–
A fairer House than Prose–
More numerous of Windows–
Superior–for Doors–

Of Chambers as the Cedars–
Impregnable of Eye–
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky–

Of Visitors–the fairest–
For Occupation–This–
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise–

I chose this poem by Emily Dickinson for its uplifting message of the wide world of possibilities that await us in our life journey. –Karen Thomas

New works will also be premiered by SGC Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Dr. Jerome Wright, Seattle Composer John Muehleisen, SGC alumnae Katie Bent and Amanda Kunz, and SGC Allegra Conductor Aimee Mell.

Tickets are available at 206-526-1900 or


Karen P. Thomas, composer and conductor, is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Seattle Pro Musica. Her compositions are performed and broadcast throughout the world, by groups such as The Hilliard Ensemble and the Vocal Consort of Brussels. Her works are published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing and at this website, and have been featured at numerous ACDA and AGO conferences.

A prize-winning composer, she has received grants from the NEA, The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and Meet the Composer, among numerous others.

As a conductor, Ms. Thomas has produced nine critically-acclaimed CDs, and received the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and the ASCAP-Chorus America Award. She has appeared as guest conductor at international festivals in Europe and North America, and the NPR radio show Saint Paul Sunday. She received the 2012 Outstanding Choral Director Award for Washington State, and currently serves on the boards of the Pacific NW Chapter for the Recording Academy (Grammy), the American Choral Directors Association (NW Division), and the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium.

HOPE: John Muehleisen’s newly commissioned work for Prime Voci

On June 15, 2013 at Seattle’s Town Hall all five levels of Seattle Girls’ Choir will premiere newly commissioned works. Composer John Muelhiesen was selected to write for our most senior ensemble Prime Voci.


From the Composer:


Music John Muehleisen; Poem by Emily Dickinson

First of all, I’m delighted to have been asked to compose a work for Prime Vocithe advanced high-school ensemble of Seattle Girls’ Choir (SGC)—to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of this great organization. To compose a work for Prime Voci is a particular joy for me because of my long history with this ensemble, which dates back to 1998, when I composed a work titled The King of Glory for Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble and SGC’s Prime Voci. The next year I composed The Wise and the Foolish for the same two ensembles. (more…)

Hear Seattle Girls’ Choir on King FM every day this week!

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As we prepare for our 30th Anniversary Concert on June 15, thanks to KING FM for highlighting Seattle Girls’ Choir CD’s and live on-air recordings.

Monday, June 10

Mendelssohn:  Paulus, Op.36: How Lovely are the Messengers (SGC’s recording from NW Focus Live in June 2012) at approximately 8pm

Tuesday, June 11

Pergolesi:  Stabat Mater in F minor (excerpts) (SGC’s recording from NW Focus Live in June 2012) at approximately 8pm

Wednesday, June 12

Hovland:  Bow down thine ear, O Lord (SGC’s recording) at approximately 9:19pm

Thursday, June 13

Thompson:  Frostiana: Choose Something Like a Star (SGC’s recording from NW Focus Live in June 2012) at approximately 8:09pm

Friday, June 14

Berkey:  Nunc Dimittis (SGC’s recording) at approximately 9:26pm

About Northwest Focus

More information at



‘Like’ KING FM on Facebook



Link to @KINGFM and @nwfocus



Seattle Girls’ Choir Celebrates 30 Years of Inspiration with Six World Premieres


On June 15, 2013 at Seattle’s Town Hall all five levels of SGC choirs will perform newly commissioned works. Each choir will present a piece, and the combined SGC choirs will sing a work by SGC Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Dr. Jerome Wright.

Here is a preview of his new work, Bound for Seattle:

Bound for Seattle is “A Five-Minute History of Seattle,” set on board a 19th century clipper ship bound for Seattle and told by various waves of immigrants: Sailors, miners, and brides from New England. The song is in the form of a sea chantey (or shantey, shanty or chanty). Each verse of the piece has a distinct flavor…so I developed variations on the harmony and style to accommodate the different groups. For example, there is a section of the second verse dealing with home-sickness and how the sight of the Olympics had a healing effect. The score is very open, with the counter melodies reminiscent of alpenhorns. The raucous miners are accompanied by what I call “saloon piano” – while the brides have a piano accompaniment in the style of an 18th century piano sonata.
The last verse has two parts. In the verse, sung a cappella, the inhabitants of Seattle dream of a future metropolis; and the final chorus is set in the present, and sung by the lucky inhabitants of our great city.
I quote popular music of the period, and am not shy to use quodlibet. See how many bits of other songs you can find as you listen. My intention was to create a light and joyous song: fun for all ages to sing, and a delight to hear. I hope you enjoy “Bound for Seattle” as much as I enjoyed composing it! – Jerome Wright

New pieces by John Muehleisen, Karen Thomas, Aimee Mell, and alumnae Katie Bent and Amanda Kunz will also be premiered.

Tickets are available at 206-526-1900 or

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30th Anniversary Cabaret a Hit!

On Friday, March 15th at ACT’s Bullitt Cabaret current and past Seattle Girls’ Choir members and families joined together to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of SGC. As guests entered the room down a golden staircase they were greeted with slideshow images of SGC memories and the rousing call from event organizer, Kate Snider to toss a ring and win a bottle of wine or stuffed animal. Nearby was a lovely selection of donated items available at the Silent Auction.

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The evening’s festivities were emceed by current Artistic Director, Jacob Winkler. SGC Alumnae entertained the audience with their musical talent. Hilary Johnson (2008), The Women of Ancora, Maria Mannisto (2000), Sheila Houlahan (2009), Erin McNamee (1998), and Amanda Taylor Kunz (2010) were there live. From Los Angeles, popular singer/songwriter, Bonnie McKee (2002) sent an inspiring video message filled with memories and thanks to founder Dr. Wright and the Seattle Girls’s Choir for helping become her grounded in music.

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Seattle Girls’ Choir Placement Auditions: Commonly Asked Questions, Answered!


Dolcine (The Sweet Ones) 1st & 2nd grade, performing at Town Hall, Sarra Sharif, Director

On January 26th, Seattle Girls’ Choir is holding our Winter Placement auditions for girls in grades 1-12, for a February start in choir culminating in our Spring concert celebrating our 30th Anniversary on June 15, 2013 at Town Hall, Seattle.  To schedule an audition, call 206-526-1900 and download the audition packet  from our website.

Here are some of the most common questions we get from prospective families about auditions, as well as our many programs including costs:

How do we prepare for our placement audition, and what should we expect?

The auditions are first and foremost low key and friendly. Parents join their daughter in the tryout with Artistic Director Jake Winkler and Aimee Mell, conductor of Allegra (4th-6th grade choir). We start out with a few questions about your daughter’s musical interests and experience, taking some time to get to know your family. When she is ready, she can sing for us the song she prepared. This can be anything from a musical, a folk song, a song from a movie, or something she learned at school. We prefer not to hear “pop” or “rock” songs, not because we don’t like pop music, but because they often have a lower range for young girls, and a more restricted overall range so we can’t hear as much of her voice. After that we will check her range (how high and low she sings), and ask her to sing My Country ‘Tis of Thee. If she doesn’t know that, we select Happy Birthday or another familiar song instead. This will be followed by some exercises so we can check how well she matches a pitch on the piano with her voice. These exercises will increase in complexity, helping us to get a sense of her ear for music. For girls in 5th grade and up, they may also be asked to look at some music and sing the notes, or clap some rhythms. For girls in 7th grade and up, these sight reading exercises will be more advanced and will play a larger role in the overall placement of your daughter in the group.


Prime Voci (First Voices), our most advanced ensemble performing in Germany and The Czech Republic, 2012.

Is my daughter ready for choir?

With the youngest girls, the main things we look for are: 1. Her ability to sing in front of others. Sometimes the youngest girls are too shy, and reluctant to sing in the audition. When this happens, we will give her a little time to become comfortable, or try some fun ways to get her to sing, like having her sing with Aimee, our Allegra conductor. If she still doesn’t want to sing, we will often recommend that she comes back in six months so that the overall experience is a positive one. 2. Her ability to match pitch throughout her range. In order to add to the choir, it is important that she be able to match pitch. If she is having a hard time matching the piano, we will often move to having her match our voices, to which some girls are more responsive. If she can’t effectively match pitch, it doesn’t mean that she won’t be able to (we often hear the term tone deaf, which is actually extremely rare, and almost everyone can learn to sing and match pitch if they practice!) If she does not match pitch during the audition, we will often recommend that she join our MUSICAL ME ! class which focuses on singing, that she work on matching pitch with a piano teacher, music teacher at school or voice teacher, that she sign up for one of our Summer Music Day Camps, and that she re-audition in six months.

What will my first or second grader learn in choir?

Dolcine, which meets for 1.5 hours on Tuesdays is our youngest choir. Under the direction of SGC Alumna and certified music educator Sarra Sharif,  choir girls learn how to breathe, place their sound, create vowels, blend their voices, project and watch the director. They are also immediately introduced to reading music using solfège (do, re, mi) as well as learning rhythms. Time is taken in every rehearsal to focus on music fundamentals and literacy. The choir performs on stage at Town Hall in front of over 800 audience members, as well as two smaller performances each year.

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Vivissimi (Very Lively Ones), Primarily 3rd and 4th Grade

How do you “place” girls?

In our youngest two choirs, girls are generally placed by age as we build skills and music literacy. After 4th grade musical ability, singing experience, and music skills come more into play. Allegra, generally 5th and 6th grade sometimes has 7th and even 8th graders. Cantamus, generally 7th-8th graders sometimes has 6th and 9th graders. Prime Voci, typically is made up of all high school women 9th-12th or 10th-12th grades. Entering at the upper two levels requires some musical literacy and vocal training if a girl has not moved through the SGC choir system.


Dolcine learning about posture and breathing

What makes Seattle Girls’ Choir unique?

OVERNIGHT CAMP: Starting in 5th grade, the top three choirs spend a week each summer at Ft. Flagler on the Olympic Peninsula as the start of our instructional year. A fun-filled time of singing, electives, talent shows, kite-flying, crafts, camp fires, echo-singing in the WWII bunkers, shopping in Port Townsend and beach walks. Any SGC Alumna will tell you that camp is a favorite childhood memory, and many come back to help out even after graduating! At camp, girls begin to develop deep and lasting friendships that will last throughout their lives. It also begins preparing our girls to work and live together as they start looking towards tours and festivals all over the world.

THEORY INSTRUCTION: Seattle Girls’ Choir is a place for girls who truly love to sing. We start teaching musical literacy at our youngest levels, introducing weekly written and aural theory training in grade 3. Vivissimi (3-4) and Allegra (5-6) have 30 minutes of time dedicated to developing listening skills, sight reading and rhythm practice. Written theory covers the basics and more so girls can become musically independent in their own right. Cantamus (7-8) and Prime Voci (9-12) have one hour weekly of written and aural theory, as well as specifically designed online programs designed so they can work at home independently building and refining their skills.

DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE: Seattle Girls’ Choir is more than an after school activity. We are a choral music academy for girls who love music and who want to make music a significant part of their lives. Our upper choirs practice 4-5 hours a week to prepare for tours, radio performances, collaborations with other Seattle arts organizations, or CD recordings. Even though girls may not go into music as a profession, we teach them what it takes to be professional musicians. Preparation, skill, knowledge and dedication that will serve them in anything they choose to do.

“I grew up in this environment and it has made me who I am today. I am a confident, independent young woman
who is not afraid to voice her opinion because I learned how to speak for myself and be confident as a woman
through choir. I have been empowered by Seattle Girls’ Choir to follow my dreams and heart no matter where they
take me.” – SGC Alumna


     Crazy Choir Relays, Overnight Camp


         Crafts, Overnight Camp


             Team building, Overnight Camp


Handbell Elective, Overnight Camp

Where does Seattle Girls’ Choir perform?

Seattle Girls’ Choir performs throughout Seattle, offering two All Choir concerts per year, typically at Town Hall, Seattle. Our most advanced group, Prime Voci often collaborates with other area organizations and professional musicians. Most recently they performed with Seattle Pro Musica, Simple Measures Chamber Music, Seattle Youth Symphony, Choral Arts, and the Seattle Choral Company. They have also offered their own music series Carmina Angelorum, and have recently released a CD of the same name. Seattle Girls’ Choir is often heard on KING FM and recently performed live on Northwest Focus. Our top two choirs offer a seasonal Lessons & Carols each year, recenly raising funds for King County Toys for Tots. Seattle audiences also know our choirs from our performances on the Argosy Christmas Ships grand finale parade each year. See the Video

Our younger choirs perform throughout the community at venues such as: The Make-A-Wish Foundation Santa Brunch, Seattle Center House, Seattle Aquarium, O’Christmas Trees Family Fair, Warm Beach Lights of Christmas, Seattle Symphony Discover Music Concerts, Pacific Place,  nursing homes, private events, and more.

Does Seattle Girls’ Choir travel?

Yes! Prime Voci travels (sometimes competing) on average every three years, typically to international destinations. We just completed our 10th European Tour in the summer of 2012. In our ten tours, we have visited: Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Wales, and Slovakia.  Click here for a list of tours and international competitions.

Other groups travel as well. Cantamus (7-8) will be making their 4th trip to the Pacific International Children’s Choral Festival, a week long non-competitive event in Eugene, OR. Allegra (4-5) and Cantamus have both participated in the Ft. Worden Children’s Choral Festival, and SGC regularly hosts and shares concerts with other choirs that are traveling in our area, most recently the Piedmont Eastbay Children’s Choir.


Cantamus at the Pacific International Children’s Choral Festival, Eugene, OR

Can we afford Seattle Girls’ Choir?

In an effort to be as accessible as possible to potential singers, we have waived our audition fee (previously $25). So auditioning and meeting us in person won’t cost you a thing! We also offer need-based financial aid to girls who are accepted into the program, sometimes paying up to 60% as we are able.

Dolcine & Vivissimi (1.5-2 hours of instruction weekly) $104-$124 a month for 10 months ($14-$17 an hour) With private voice lessons in Seattle running $60-$70 an hour, this is the most affordable way to get your daughter started with singing!

Allegra, (4 hours of instruction a week) $156 a month for 12 months AND the price includes the cost of a full week of overnight sleep away camp. This puts the cost of instruction alone at only $10/hour!

Cantamus (5 hours of instruction a week)  $176.80 a month for 12 months comes out to  $9.5 an hour, and the cost includes a full week of overnight sleep away camp.

Prime Voci (5 hours of instruction a month, plus extra rehearsals and performances)  $187.25 a month for 12 months including a full week of overnight sleep away camp, comes out to just $9 an hour for a top notch musical experience!

Whether your daughter wants to sing classical, Broadway, pop or jazz, Seattle Girls’ Choir will provide her with the skills and ability to enjoy singing and making music throughout her life. We hope you will contact us with any questions you have about our programs as a fit for your daughter.


Allegra Cropped

Members of Allegra (The happy ones)