The Masterworks Children's Choruses have a high-energy "Voices of Spring" concert planned for you on Sunday -- but it's anything but kids stuff.
"It's a wide-ranging concert with music from the Old World, classical and baroque, to the New World, Gerschwin to African American spirituals. It's a joyous panorama of American music," said Dr. Stephen Mager, music director and conductor.
"There's even a newer song, 'We Are the Dreamers,' written especially for kids by Joan Varner. In view of all the bad news coming out of Boston this week, it's very appropriate and uplifting because it calls for creating a better world. It's a good message for kids to learn and to pass on through music."
The Masterworks Children's Choruses are composed of nine singers in the Children's Chorus, for grades 3-8, and nine high school singers in the Youth Chorale.
"It's a joy working with kids because they have so much energy," Mager said. "For kids, chorus is more like an athletic activity. We do some physical exercises and lots of vocal training. The challenge is to channel all that energy into the music.
"Kids love music and singing and this group is so willing to work hard."
Singing the classics in Latin and German doesn't faze them.
"I look at them as glasses half full and they are eagerly waiting to be filled up," Mager said. "They don't come with any bad habits. Everything is a new discovery for them. And that comes across in their singing."
One of those energetic young singers is Madelyn Wagner, 13, an eighth-grader at Central Junior High. She has been in the choruses for four years, since 5th grade.
"I enjoy learning about music and performing with a group of kids who love to sing like I do," Madelyn said. "I like the director and the music."
Her favorite song from the concert lineup is "Simple Gifts."
"It's a classic American folk song about enjoying the simple gifts of life," she said. "Which i do."
Madelyn's musical talent runs in the family. The daughter of Michael and Jeanie Wagner, her brother Michael, 9, sings in the Children's Chorus and her grandparents, Sandy and Rusty Wagner, sing with the Masterworks Chorale.
"I want to sing in high school and college choirs," she said, "and someday I want to sing in the Masterworks Choral."
When she's not singing herself, she listens to acoustic music including Ed Sheeran, the techno-alternative band Owl City and top 40 songs. She also plays on the Hot Shots softball team.
The Children's Choruses already know that audiences appreciate their efforts.
"At the Masterworks Christmas concert in December, they got a standing O," Mager said. "I don't usually put too much credence in a standing ovation, but for them to get one right in the middle of the show, the audience recognized that they are excellent musicians."
Sunday's concert will include Matt Pankratz playing three Preludes for Piano by George Gershwin.
"He is a very fine pianist," Mager said. "His part is jazzy and a lot of fun."
Pankratz is a St. Louis native who graduated in 2012 with a bachelor of music performance from Webster University. He won the Webster University Concerto Competition in 2012 and performed with the Webster Symphony Orchestra.
Masterworks Children's Chorus members are Kathleen Pederson, Mary Phillips, Abigail Stone and Michael Wagner, of Belleville; Harrison Klohr and Alex Eichholz, of O'Fallon; Clarissa Bell, of Collinsville; Madelyn Letendre, of Shiloh; and Emily Filkins, of New Athens.
Youth Chorale members are Rayna Campbell and Madelyn Wagner, of Belleville; Margeaux Crane and Alexandria Dukes, of Shiloh; Ellen Filkins and Brittney Kohlmeier, of New Athens; Drew Barnes, of Scott Air Force Base; Lydia Walther, of Collinsville; and Abby Richardson, of Millstadt.
What: Masterwork Children's Choruses present "Voices of Spring" concert
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: St. Paul United Church of Christ, 115 West B St., Belleville.
Tickets: Adults $15 in advance, $20 at the concert; students $5 in advance, $10 at the concert; from any Masterworks Chorale member, at 618-236-0182 or www.singmasterworks.org