WELCOME to the Bija Children's Choir, a 501c3 nonprofit program deeply dedicated to educating and inspiring young people in Sonoma County who love to sing, as well as enriching the community through quality multicultural performances. Bija is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning creative seed, representing the Bija Choir's mission of sowing seeds of musical capability, confidence, and creativity among Sonoma County's youth.
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THE 2016-17 SEASON classes finish on Thursday June 8th followed by a summer break.
the new 2017-18 season begins thursday September 21, 2017 at the following schedule:
Wednesdays 4:15-5:15pm Treble Choir (13yrs + by audition or invitation)
Thursdays 3:30-4:20pm Preparatory Choir (7-12 yrs, no audition; 6 yr olds by director's discretion)
4:20-5:10pm Concert Choir (8-14 yrs by audition or invitation)
4:20-5:30pm Concert Choir Select (by invitation only)
Thursday classes are held at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 South High St., and Wednesday Treble Choir rehearses at a private studio in central Sebastopol. Students may enter at the start of the season in September (and space permitting in January for Preparatory Choir only). Auditioned-level choirs are a full-season commitment.
ABOUT THE BIJA CHILDREN'S CHOIR CLASSES
Classes meet weekly, leveled by age and ability:
The Bija Preparatory Choir is open to ages 7-12 without an audition (and to mature 6yr olds as permitted by director), and introduces children to basic choral concepts of solfege singing, music theory through movement, multicultural repertoire, simple rhythmic dances, and developing a beautiful unison sound. Preparatory Choir students perform at choir-wide events for the community.
The Bija Concert Choir is open to ages 8-14 by audition or invitation, and works with multicultural repertoire in two and three part harmonies, as well as movement choreographies and rhythmic percussion accompaniment. Music theory principles such as meter, phrase, notation, and form are taught through the movement principles of Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Concert Choir students perform at local venues throughout the season and are featured in the Annual Bija Story Concert that collaborates with guest artists from Sonoma County and the Bay Area.
The Bija Treble Choir is an a cappella-style singing group run privately by Maria Bija for older girls and women by audition or invitation, performing advanced-intermediate classic choral and world music arrangements for community benefit events and special projects, particularly promoting adolescent girls' education worldwide.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about choir placement.
ABOUT FOUNDING & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MARIA BIJA
Maria Bija is a classically-trained musician with a passion for world music and dance. Born in Boston, MA to an Italian mother and English American father-- both very naturally- musical parents with great rhythm and perfect sense of pitch and harmony, Maria began singing at her earliest age and showed early abilities at the piano. For eight formative years she studied with Polish concert pianist, Ronald Kmiec of Carlisle, Massachusetts.
By her teenage years, Maria began her professional vocal career, recording corporate commercial jingles and singing jazz, r&b, country, and folk styles, with her major influences at the time including Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bonnie Raitt. Later in her college years, Maria studied abroad in Italy, India, Ghana, and Brazil, and sang with samba bands in Boston, paving the way to her lifelong love of Brazilian music.
Maria earned her Master's of Music degree in Dalcroze Eurhythmics in 1997 under the tutelage of Lisa Parker, and has since incorporated Dalcroze movement-based teaching principles in her music classes for all ages and levels of ability. Understanding the crucial role of movement in teaching/learning music, she honors the belief that the first instrument is the body.
Over the past decades, Maria has recorded numerous albums, one of which won a Parents Choice Award ("World Family Folk Celebration", available on CDBaby) and another spent 3yrs under contract with Challenge Records of the Netherlands (Blue Brazil: Gema). As a mother of two, she created the Musical Mothering program for young families in Napa Valley, and world music ensembles such as Twin Souls, Blue Brazil, Abrazu and Kindred Voices. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Bija Children's Choir in Sonoma County. Maria plans to travel abroad once again in the coming years and collaborate with musicians internationally, while at the same time continues to nurture her home community in Sebastopol, promoting local sustainability and gender equality in the way she creatively and thoughtfully leads her life in the performing arts.
COLLEEN TONER-ROGERS, CLASS ASSISTANT
Colleen Toner-Rogers is the Bija Children's Choir's Class Assistant. Outside of class, she directs of the West County Music Together program, and has many years of experience with children and music, in addition to performing with the women's vocal ensemble, Kindred Voices. She assists in the Bija classes as needed, handles registration and concert-time matters. She also works with sections of the Concert & Treble Choir classes, assisting in the development of harmony skills.