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About The Choir School

For nearly 30 years, The Choir School has offered Charlotte’s best musical education.

Our Mission

The Choir School enriches and strengthens young lives through excellent, rigorous music education and choral performance.

The Choir School at St. Peter’s is an auditioned community choir offering accessible and rigorous music education and performance opportunities to talented boys, girls, and young men and women from every background and every corner of the Charlotte region. Originally founded in 1993 as a boys choir in the classic English tradition, the school has grown to include five distinct choirs of boys and girls whose members range in age from seven to eighteen.

Rigorous instruction in music theory is integral
to The Choir School program. Students memorize music and texts in multiple languages. These aspects of the program, along with the varied opportunities for performance and the experiences of touring, go far to explain the depth of a Choir School education. Choristers emerge from the program well prepared for future formal study in music, if desired, but equally ready to pursue successful futures in any other field because of the skills and characteristics they cultivate in The Choir School.

Every year the choirs of The Choir School perform for thousands of audience members, offering three concerts at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Uptown Charlotte as well as performances in secular and sacred settings throughout the region. Each summer our tour choirs and MasterSingers travel to destinations throughout the United States, performing for audiences all along the way. Every four years the MasterSingers travel to England to perform and to experience firsthand the roots of the Anglican choral tradition.

Our vision

The Choir School’s students, board, staff and faculty use their collective gifts to enrich the community by:

Giving all children access to an extraordinary music education and experience;
Celebrating choral tradition and the transformative power of music;
Creating confident, creative, collaborative Choir School alumni who successfully enrich their own communities in a wide variety of professions and endeavors.
Our Values
We are motivated by the knowledge that arts education can be a permanent foundation for success in life.
We are dedicated to the principle that excellence and accessibility are equal catalysts in the impact of the Choir School program.
We are proud to be an example of how the arts can tear down cultural barriers and build perspective, tolerance, and respect.
We believe in the value of determination, collaboration, and beauty.

Strategic Plan

The board and staff of The Choir School at St. Peter’s have developed a three-year plan to provide a strategic approach to the direction of The Choir School through December 2022.

You can download our Strategic Plan framework.

Our Choirs

The Choir School’s five choirs offer rigorous music education and performance opportunities to talented young people from every walk of life.

The Choir School at St. Peter’s is a nonprofit, non-religious organization that offers music education and choral performance opportunities to talented young men and women from across the Charlotte region. Originally conceived as a boys choir in the classic European tradition, the school has grown to include five distinct choirs whose members range in age from seven to eighteen. 

THE TOWN CHOIRs

Young choristers typically begin with The Choir School as members of the Town Choirs, our two training choirs for boys and girls who enjoy singing. In the Town Choir, choristers begin to develop music and vocal skills, meeting weekly to rehearse, study music theory, and practice performance technique. In addition to musicianship, Town Choir members develop important skills like teamwork and self-discipline as they work together to create one voice from many voices.

The Boys Town Choir meets regularly on Tuesdays during the school year, beginning with Music Theory class at 5:15 and continuing with rehearsal from 6:00 to 7:30.

The Girls Town Choir meets regularly on Mondays during the school year, beginning with Music Theory class at 5:15 and continuing with rehearsal from 6:00 to 7:30.

The Town Choirs are directed by Emily Mason.

THE TOur CHOIRs

Choristers who have completed level one of our music theory curriculum and demonstrated musical growth and commitment are invited to audition for the Tour Choirs. As members of the Tour Choir, choristers are expected to attend all rehearsals and performances and to meet all the responsibilities of membership in an advanced choral ensemble.

In the Tour Choirs, older choristers begin to master advanced vocal skills, music theory, and performance. They study traditional, sacred, and contemporary music and learn to achieve excellence as they practice, prepare, and perform together. Members of the Tour Choirs lead worship and perform in concert at St. Peter’s and throughout the community, as well as on the school’s annual summer tour.

The Boys Tour Choir meets regularly on Tuesdays during the school year, beginning with Music Theory class at 5:15 and continuing with rehearsal from 6:00 to 7:30.

The Girls Tour Choir meets regularly on Mondays during the school year, beginning with Music Theory class at 5:15 and continuing with rehearsal from 6:00 to 7:30.

Additional Friday rehearsals for both Tour Choirs are scheduled throughout the season to give members the opportunity to rehearse with other choirs in preparation for concerts.

The Tour Choirs are under the direction of The Choir School’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Lenti.

THE MASTERSINGERS

The MasterSingers are a mixed-voice ensemble made up of talented teenagers from across the region. In order to successfully enter the Mastersingers, a young person must have advanced knowledge of music theory and the ability to sight sing. MasterSingers meet weekly to refine and expand their performance skills and to prepare a broad repertoire. They learn advanced oral and sight singing skills, master complex material, and expand their knowledge of music history. Members of the MasterSingers ensemble must show a very high level of commitment and maturity, attending all rehearsals and performances and preparing extensively outside of class. MasterSingers serve as mentors and role models for students in The Choir School’s Tour and Town Choirs.

The MasterSingers perform for a wide variety of audiences, lead worship services, and travel each summer to perform in the United States or abroad. The MasterSingers program often provides the foundation of undergraduate and graduate studies in performance, conducting, or music education.

The MasterSingers meet regularly during the school year on Thursdays from 5:00 – 6:30. Additional Friday rehearsals are also scheduled throughout the year in preparation for concerts and performances.

The MasterSingers are under the direction of The Choir School Artistic Director Elizabeth Lenti.

Our Curriculum

A Choir School education is defined by our rigorous music theory education.

As choristers pass through the The Choir School, they’re advancing through a six-level music training program that teaches the fundamentals of how to read music, music theory, rhythm, and sight-singing, the ability to put that knowledge into practice. Each level is accompanied by a workbook produced by The Choir School that documents the chorister’s progress through mastery exercises.

Choristers must pass level one before their Tour Choirs audition, and level four mastery is required before joining The MasterSingers.

The curriculum includes important non-musical tasks, too. Young boys must learn how to tie their neckties, and on tour, all choristers learn how to write thank you notes to our hosts with correct spelling and good handwriting.

our ribbons

At the end of each season, choristers are recognized for their accomplishments and receive a ribbon indicating their level of achievement and a handmade silver medal; these are worn with The Choir School’s formal choral vestments.

Level One
Level Two
Level Three
Level Four
Level Five
Level Six

Our Alumni

More than 750 choristers have studied at The Choir School.

Alumnus Emily Mason ’13 returned to The Choir School as a guest performer at a benefit luncheon for the program in 2015. She now serves on The Choir School staff as Town Choirs Director.

Through nearly 30 seasons, the Choir School has touched the lives of more than 750 choristers. Our choristers have gone on to varied careers in music, studying in conservatories and top university programs. They’re professional musicians in opera companies, churches, and on Broadway, and some become music educators themselves. Our alumni are executives, small business owners, military service-members, physicians, researchers, and even Choir School parents.

In the beginning, singing was definitely out of my comfort zone. Succeeding as a chorister taught me what is possible when you get out of that zone. My experience at The Choir School helped me think through the merits of something else that felt uncomfortable at first – becoming an officer in the Air Force.
Lelyand Cathey ’16
I loved that my fellow choristers came from different backgrounds, schools, neighborhoods, and traditions. Together, we’re living proof the arts can tear down all kinds of barriers and build friendship, leadership, and success.
Nyi Nyi Myin ’15
The Choir school taught me how to break big challenges into achievable parts and how to push myself to do my best. Those skills helped me be a better musician, a better student, and ultimately, will help me achieve success in the work I’ve chosen to do.
Emily Mason ’13

Our History

Our long history of excellence informs our present and future.

The Choir School can trace its history back more than a century to the first Boys Choir at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, established 1894.

The contemporary organization was founded in September 1993 as a boys choir in the English choral tradition. Distinct from the church’s music program, The Boys Choir was an auditioned community choir open to talented young boys from across Charlotte.

In 1998, The Girls Choir was founded, with demand from our boys’ sisters. Also in our first decade, we established our training choirs, The Town Choirs, so young children could begin their musical journey in our program. In 2003, teenage alumni expressed interest in continuing to sing at The Choir School and The MasterSingers inaugural class was formed.

our FOUNDERS

The Choir School was founded by Ben Outen and Kay Johnson in September 1993.

Ben Outen was Organist and Choirmaster of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and led The Choir School as Artistic Director from 1993 to 2017. Kay Johnson served in many roles at The Choir School from its founding to her retirement as Director of Program and Finance in 2020.

In 2017, The Choir School appointed Elizabeth Lenti as the organization’s second Artistic Director.

Our Partners

The voices of tomorrow need your support today.

The Choir School remains accessible because of the sustaining support of our patrons, local businesses, and community partners. Will you join them?

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