Children's Chorus Director Christine Jordanoff retiring

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For the past 28 years, Christine Jordanoff has shaped the young singers of the Children's Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh. To celebrate her retirement as the group's artistic director, she will do much of the same.

Ms. Jordanoff is working on a book titled "When We Sing: Simple Techniques for Conducting Children's Choirs." The book focuses on musical, vocal and spiritual development (it is being published by World Library Publications, a Catholic press), and will include video demonstrations with chorus singers. Intended for students in grades 3-6, it will be the first of potentially three books, the others focusing on older students.

"It will allow me to summarize a lot of the work I've done over the last 30 years," Ms. Jordanoff said.

Her retirement coincides with the group's 30-year anniversary. Both events were celebrated at a spring concert and gala benefit with the organization's three choirs and featuring soprano Jennifer O'Loughlin, an alumna of the group. The concert showcased "everything from classical to jazz to folk," sung in languages as diverse as Hebrew, Portuguese and German.

"We covered a pretty big territory," said Ms. Jordanoff, who retired from the faculty of Duquesne University last year.

Although retirement will allow her to continue spreading the gospel of choral instruction, she'll still miss working with students, "the brightness in the eyes of the children when they finally get it," she said.

In an era of instant gratification, choral singing strikes a contrast, requiring discipline, reliability and teamwork. "It doesn't always happen the first time, or the 10th time, or the 20th time," said the Mount Washington resident. "Bringing children to that point is what I will miss most."

And she is proud of having garnered recognition for the organization for its musical and educational success. While studying in Hungary, she developed pedagogical techniques based on the work of Zoltan Kodaly. She has given graduate courses and workshops across the country about musical literacy and children's choirs.

"I'm trying to help the children to become musically independent," she said.

The young singers have performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and River City Brass. In April, members of the top ensemble, Bel Canto, made their debut at Carnegie Hall in New York with a group of children's choirs.

"They have a taste of what it's like to behave in the professional arena," Ms. Jordanoff said.

The chorus is searching for her replacement.

Elizabeth Bloom: or 412-263-1750. Twitter: @BloomPG.

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