Founding and Leadership
In 1995, several colleagues at Jacksonville University met to discuss the possibility of making a shared dream come true. Local conductor Jim Taylor, with guidance from then-University President Dr. Fran Kinne and vocal conductor Dr. Jon Carlson, developed the framework for a Jacksonville University Children’s Chorus. The program’s first choir served 16 children, but through word of mouth, the program grew, and in 1998, Taylor and a brand-new Board of Directors worked to re-organize it into The Jacksonville Children’s Chorus.
Though there were pitfalls and moments when the fledgling organization almost ceased to exist, the shared enthusiasm of children, parents and staff carried it forward. In 2006, Darren Dailey, Artistic Director of the Boston Children’s Chorus, was recruited to become the Artistic and Executive Director. Today the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus is a national leader in music education and performance.
Since its inaugural season in 1995, The Chorus has served more than 15,000 children. The core performance choirs have grown to include an annual membership of more than 400 gifted young singers, ages six to 18, representing more than 180 schools. The Chorus draws from diverse racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds, transcending differences and emphasizing similarities and common goals.
“The kids in the red vests and blazers” have become a recognized group at major community events and celebrations, including inaugurations, City Hall Christmas parties and events benefiting local charities, such as Dignity You Wear. Its children have sung in Holiday Pops performances with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, performed in five major operas, self-produced more than 70 concerts, commissioned 16 new musical compositions and arrangements, and sung every genre of music from Bach to Bluegrass.
The Chorus has taken the stage at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, has hosted and performed with Audra McDonald, Amy Grant, Kristin Chenoweth, the Westminster Choir, the St. Olaf Choir, the African Children’s Choir, Grammy-winner David Holt, and local university and church choirs. For 22 years, the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus’ singers have been recording and performing. As our singers take a bow in their 22nd year, we celebrate you, our supporters and our chaperones, who have given so generously of their time — straightening uniforms with care, providing snacks and juice with love, and soothing last-minute stage jitters with grace. To our singers, our supporters and our volunteers — we salute you!