Virginia Children’s Chorus recently completed its 30th anniversary season and is proud to announce a new artistic director, Corbin Thomas Pinto. Corbin was a member of the Virginia Children’s Chorus for six years, directed the VCC Chamber Singers for five years, and assisted with several special VCC projects over the past twenty years. The Board of Directors and Staff are thrilled that she will be leading this organization into the future. Let’s meet Corbin and find out more about her and VCC.
TFP: Why are the arts important today?
CP: Music is a medium that brings together all types of people to work towards a common goal. In a world that can be divisive, the arts can help teach teamwork and empathy. In a choir, you are simultaneously working on many levels: honing your personal craft and technique, being aware of the composer’s intent, and reacting to the ensemble around you.
TFP: Tell us about your childhood. How did you become interested in music growing up?
CP: I have always loved music. In my baby videos, I can be seen bouncing to the beat. My parents brag I was singing on key before two. As a child, I would sing for my family. As a youth I sang, played bass, played piano, and danced. I was blessed with a family who encouraged and supported my gifts and passions.
TFP: Do you think artists are born or made?
CP: I think all people are born with aptitude in certain areas, but no “gifts” can reach their potential without support and practice. Those who work hard and practice will always surpass those who are just “born with it.” However, the true masters have both. They realize their special talents and then work at it until they are the best.
TFP: Who are some of your musical heroes and/or mentors?
CP: My piano teacher Lucile Wiley was a taskmaster. As a child, I didn’t understand the need for this assignment or that. However, I owe her so much! Because of her, I saw my first opera, learned music theory, can play piano, and joined the Virginia Children’s Chorus. There I met VCC founder and director Carol Downing. Every choir I direct, I hear myself repeat lessons Carol taught me. The next mentor I have always had is my mom. My mother was always there driving me to rehearsals or lessons, tracking down a costume or school supply, encouraging me, and being an exemplary educator herself.
TFP: Tell us a little about the Virginia Children’s Chorus.
CP: Virginia Children’s Chorus is starting its 31st season. We have four levels of choirs that span ages 5-18. The program offers weekly training during the school year in healthy vocal technique, reading music (solfege class), language and diction, and expression and concert decorum. Each level gives performances where we share our music with the community. Our students love to sing and have the opportunity to make friends while doing what they love.
TFP: What are your goals as artistic director of the Virginia Children’s Chorus?
CP: I plan to continue the tradition of high-quality music education with performances in the community. VCC will continue to partner with many of the other arts organizations in the area. As artistic director, I hope to expand upon the ideas of highlighting music from different cultures as well as contemporary compositions.
TFP: How important is it to include arts education in public schools?
CP: Arts education is crucial to public schools and to the well being of the next generation. Active music-making increases children’s sensitivity to the art in music and provides cultural enrichment for the singer and the community. Choral singing gives children opportunities for self-expression, achievement, and joy.
TFP: As a teacher and choir director, what excites you about today’s youth?
CP: Today’s youth are connected to the world in a wonderful way that is filled with many possibilities. I believe that compassion and empathy that can be taught through music are skills that are more important than ever. While in rehearsal with just a push of a button, we can listen to groups from around the world, research composers, or discover facts from history or other cultures that relate to our pieces. When guided in the right direction, today’s youth have such potential and opportunities.
TFP: What advice do you have for artists and people who are considering pursuing art?
CP: Connect to the piece, practice hard, and be sure to take care of yourself.
VCC welcomes all levels of singers, from young beginners to serious high school singers. Scholarship assistance is available so that every qualified child can participate. Auditions for this upcoming season, which begins in September, are August 15, 16, and 20. Contact the VCC office at 757-440-9100 to schedule your individual time. More information can also be found at www.vachildrenschorus.org.