With beaming smiles and excellent musical stylings, The Barry Robinson Center’s Voices of Pride choir and musicians delighted the Center’s residents, staff and guests with a captivating winter concert on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.
1970s folk standards, spirituals and a Disney soundtrack comprised the musical selections. The young performers’ voices rang out on songs such as, “Day by Day,” “Let There be Peace on Earth,” “Rock of My Salvation” and “Colors of the Wind.”
Current participants in Voices of Pride include about 10 singers, several guitarists, a keyboardist and percussionist. Destiney Kooilman, one of the Center’s residential counselors, accompanied the choir on piano for several numbers.
Stephanie King, the Center’s music therapist for more than 25 years, leads the Voices of Pride choir. In spite of residents rotating in and out of treatment every few months, the choir maintains a level of excellence with its ever-changing lineup of young singers and musicians. This excellence comes from King’s leadership, as she demonstrates a remarkable knack for teaching and encouraging her young charges.
“Consistency is the key. I can be flexible, but I’m consistent,” King explained. “I mix nurturing and limit-setting together, and I teach the members commitment and responsibility.”
The Voices of Pride choir has been a core feature of the Center for nearly as long as King’s tenure. The choir performs throughout the year at several venues – on campus at prayer services and “Tunes at Noon” in the cafeteria, in the community at nursing homes, and at other occasional events. King also takes the choir to visit local performances, such as Norfolk Fest Events and the Hurrah Players – a family theatre company whose young performers serve as inspiration to the Voices of Pride.
Participants rehearse with Voices of Pride twice a week, and more frequently when a performance is approaching. As needed, King also schedules special rehearsals with sections, such as the sopranos or guitarists. And, she works with the therapists to help ensure residents who want to participate are able to do so.
“Usually, once we do something like the recent concert, it shows all the choir members’ peers what they can do too,” King said. “These performances are how I recruit. Usually, a couple of residents will ask me about it after every concert.”
Thanks to King’s dedication, music therapy and the Voices of Pride choir are distinctive elements that set the Center apart from other residential treatment facilities.