There is perhaps no better example of a perfect union than when an internationally-known youth vocal ensemble conducts much of its extraordinary musical presentations in a recital hall known worldwide as one of the premier acoustic facilities of its kind.
That is the viewpoint held by all who have witnessed the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir perform at the Clayton State University recital hall which bears it name.
However, if it weren’t for the group’s choir director, Martha Shaw, who holds a Doctorate of Musical Art degree, this union would not have so captured the world’s attention that it continues to be invited to sing in venues throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Shaw, who is also a professor of music at Reinhardt University in Waleska, has been at the helm of the group, which boasts children from throughout the south metro area, since its inception in 1994.
“It is so wonderful to take these children to places both in and outside our country that they have not seen before, and might never have been able to experience, if they were not part of the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir,” she said.
“The children receive a unique perspective of important places in the world that is much greater than just reading about them,” Shaw added.
In return, Shaw, who said working with the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir is one of the most satisfying elements of her life, is also grateful that the talent of these metro Atlanta youngsters can be shared with music lovers in venues which include such famed U.S. sites as the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.
Her group has also made historic appearances internationally, including the Great Hall of China in Beijing as well as Sweden, Norway and Korea.
It was 19 years ago that the Spivey Hall Education Committee asked Shaw to organize a children’s ensemble. Her call for young vocalists met with so much enthusiasm that the group held it first concert shortly thereafter.
Shaw’s rehearsal day schedule is hectic. After teaching music Reinhardt University through the day, she arrives at Clayton State University about 4 p.m. for rehearsal of all the groups comprising the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir. She seldom leaves Clayton State on Monday’s before 10 p.m.
However, she said, the time she is able to spend with the children each week is, “priceless and as thrilling and meaningful to me as I hope it is to them.”
Shaw also believes music, which many refer to as the international language, is a vital element of helping kids “round out” their educational experience.