Savannah’s young women raise their voices in RISE 

Chorales group welcomes new singers—no audition necessary

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IT'S TIME for the young women of Savannah to raise their voices.

RISE Chorales is accepting new members for its 2016-17 season, and high school-aged gals interested in singing and serving their community can join today.

RISE Founder and Artistic Director Emily Williams Burch, former Director of Education and Music for Savannah Children’s Choir, is a passionately skilled vocal teacher who’s eager to engage Savannah’s teen singers.

“There’s nothing for high school women in Savannah,” Burch remarks. “The Children’s Choir does a great job reaching that age, but there’s nothing for high schoolers once they get out.”

Enter RISE. Part choir, part community service organization, RISE teaches students from an array of schools life skills and community involvement.

“We sing and we socialize and we serve,” Burch says. “We intentionally build soft skills: how to talk at a cocktail party, what to bring to a potluck, what to wear to this or that. And we serve and give back to the community and help girls find ways to give back as they grow up.”

RISE even features a leadership team.

“Let’s say we have 12 girls,” Burch offers. “All 12 have an assignment role and responsibility of some type within the group. No one just comes and sings. Whether it’s Social Coordinator or Service Chair—we’ve even had a Text Master!—they came up with their own job titles last year. It’s very student-driven. It’s almost like I’m the facilitator and we work together as a team to achieve goals.”

For the foreseeable future, Girls on the Run, an organization that emphasizes running and honing life skills, is RISE’s service partner.

“They’re a team of dynamite women!” Burch praises. “We’ll be helping them at their races. Some of our introverted high schoolers will learn how to step out of their comfort zone and encourage others.”

Savannah Friends of Music, a RISE partner, has already donated sheet music for the team.

“We are doing a ton of music from all different genres and decades and styles,” Burch shares. “We’ve even had two pop/jazz/a capella pieces written just for us!”

Burch advises that the musical program is “lots of exploratory fun.”

“It’s all based on learning how to read music, but having fun while doing it,” she explains.

Don’t know how to read music? Never sung outside of the shower? Not a problem.

“Whether or not you can sing, that’s my job,” says Burch. “I went to school to be able to teach anybody how to sing, and I have lots of talent. If you can’t sing, that’s why I’m here. If you like to be involved in music, that’s why we come together. We do everything else to build the other stuff up.”

RISE also understands that high schoolers are quite busy; with that in mind, a choir program has been designed that allows for flexibility with rehearsal dates and locations. Women can also register by the semester or by the season.

Young women interested in RISE can participate in this season’s kickoff, an optional retreat. The deadline to register is Friday, August 12. For $50, participants receive vocal instruction, rehearsal, food, a ticket to the opera in collaboration with Savannah Voice Festival, an evening movie viewing, and morning mini-concert. The weekend concludes with a free-to-the-public potluck picnic and information meeting featuring Nashville singer Jessie Smith.

Burch encourages any and all young women with a desire to sing check out what RISE is all about.

“We want to create lifelong singers and community singers,” Burch says.

Attending the retreat is not required to join the choir; students can enroll by August 30. Rehearsals begin August 22.

To register for the retreat or learn more information, visit risechorales.com.


Potluck Picnic, Q&A, and Jessie Smith in Concert

When: Sunday, August 21, Q&A at 12:15, food and music at 12:30 p.m.

Where: Tiedeman Park

Info: All-ages, bring a covered dish


About The Author

Anna Chandler

Anna Chandler

Connect Savannah Arts & Entertainment Editor Anna Chandler started writing about music after growing hoarse from talking about it nonstop. Born in Tennessee and raised in South Carolina, she has been a proud Savannahian for 8 years. She sings & plays guitar & accordion in COEDS and Lovely Locks.

More by Anna Chandler


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