Phoenix Girls Chorus

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The Phoenix Girls Chorus is starting their 35th season. They are coming off a whirlwind tour this summer where they were invited to sing at Carnegie Hall. The chorus is composed of five choirs for girls aged 7 – 18 and the mission is to cultivate, inspire, and empower young women to find their voice through world-class music education and performance. Artistic Director Danya Tiller and a member of the chorus will join us on set.

TED: TONIGHT'S EDITION OF ARIZONA ARTBEAT LOOKS AT THE PHOENIX GIRLS CHORUS WHICH IS STARTING ITS 35TH SEASON. JOINING US NOW TO TELL US MORE ABOUT THE PHOENIX GIRLS CHORUS, DANYA TILLER, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE CHORUS AND CHORUS MEMBER GRETCHEN MONROE. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE, THANKS FOR JOINING US.
DANYA TILLER: THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.
TED: WHAT IS THE PHOENIX GIRLS CHORUS?
DANYA TILLER: THE PHOENIX GIRLS CHORUS IS A NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION, OBVIOUSLY, IN OUR 35TH YEAR OF ORGANIZATION AND WE ARE COMPRISED OF FIVE DIFFERENT CHOIRS.
SO WE HAVE AGE-APPROPRIATE CHOIRS STARTING AT SECOND GRADE, AGE 7, ALL THE WAY THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL.
TED: AND 7 THROUGH 18 IS THE AGE RANGE.
DANYA TILLER: UH-HUH.
TED: AND IS IT BY AGE OR ACCOMPLISHMENT, HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
DANYA TILLER: NOT EXACTLY SO IT'S PARTIALLY BY AGE AND GRADE BUT AS THEY PROGRESS THROUGH, IT'S ABOUT ABILITY AND TALENT. WE HAVE OVERLAP IN SOME OF THE CHOIRS TO ACCOMMODATE FOR THAT.
TED: YOU'VE BEEN WITH THE CHOIR FOR HOW LONG?
GRETCHEN MONROE: THIS IS MY 10TH YEAR.
TED: 10 YEARS? MY GOODNESS. WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OUT WHAT DID YOUEXPECT?
DANYA TILLER: MY SISTER WAS IN IT PREVIOUSLY AND WE WERE RECOMMENDED BY A FRIEND SO I HAD AN IDEA WHAT I WAS GOING TO RECIEVE. BUT STILL, IT'S AMAZING, YOU CAN'T DESCRIBE IT IN WORDS AND GIVE IT JUSTICE.
TED: AS FAR AS THE EXPERIENCE, IS IT A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE, LEARNING EXPERIENCE, OBVIOUSLY, WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU'VE LEARNED THERE?
DANYA TILLER: HMM, DEFINITELY GROWTH IN MUSIC. AND HEARING AND YOUR SIGHT READING AND RHYTHM BUT ALSO GROWTH AND LEADERSHIP AS WELL.
TED: YEAH, THAT'S KIND OF THE MISSION OF THE GIRLS CHORUS, IT'S KIND OF LIKE SELF-ESTEEM. LEADERSHIP, TEAMWORK, POISE, ALL OF THESE THINGS.
DANYA TILLER: ABSOLUTELY, ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVE TO TELL OUR NEW PARENTS WHEN WE HAVE ORIENTATION, THROUGH THE MUSIC EDUCATION PROGRAM AND OUR TRAVEL AND WHAT WE DO TOGETHER, WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE BETTER HUMAN BEINGS THROUGH OUR MUSIC. NOT JUST GREAT MUSICIANS BUT GREAT HUMAN BEINGS.
TED: AS YOU'RE MAKING THESE GREAT HUMANS, MUSIC THEORY, CHOREOGRAPHY, ALL OF THAT HAS TO BE TAUGHT, HUH?
DANYA TILLER: ABSOLUTELY, WE KIND OF FEEL LIKE WE'RE THE KIND OF ACTIVITY FOR KIDS, FOR YOUTH THAT, IS ALIGNED WITH MAYBE A SERIOUS GYMNAST OR SERIOUS SPORTS, A SPORTS TEAM. BUT WE DON'T REQUIRE THE SAME COMMITMENT OF TIME. SO WE REQUIRE A LOT OF WORK AND A LOT OF LEARNING AND ACHIEVEMENT BUT WE DON'T HAVE THE DAILY REHEARSALS OR THE DAILY PRACTICES THAT SOME OTHER SPORTS DO.
TED: SOUNDS LIKE ONE AFTER SCHOOL ALL DAY REHEARSAL PER WEEK.
DANYA TILLER: DEPENDING ON THE CHOIR, ANYWHERE BETWEEN AN HOUR AND A HALF TO TWO HOURS OF CHOIR ONCE A WEEK.
TED: WHEN YOU AUDITIONED FOR THE CHORUS, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? WAS IT PRESSURE PACKED OR A BREEZE?
GRETCHEN MONROE: AN EASY COMBINATION, SOMEHOW.
TED: EXPLAIN.
GRETCHEN MONROE: WELL, I WAS IN THIRD GRADE SO I DON'T REMEMBER MUCH. BUT I REMEMBER I HAVE SANG A JAZZ KIND OF SONG, SO I WAS A LITTLE BIT NERVOUS BUT ALSO A LITTLE BIT CONFIDENT TOO.
TED: SINCE THEN 10 YEARS YOU'VE BEEN WITH THIS -- I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE TRAVEL ALL OVER THE WORLD, CARNEGIE HALL. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
GRETCHEN MONROE: I HAVE BEEN TO NEW YORK, BOSTON, COLORADO, ITALY, SPAIN, D.C. AND THIS YEAR, I'M PLANNING TO GO TO CANADA WITH THE CHOIR AS WELL.
TED: WOW! THIS IS IMPORTANT. THAT'S A LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN AND OF ITSELF.
DANYA TILLER: ABSOLUTELY, THE TOURING PART OF THE PROGRAM IS ESSENTIAL. THE GIRLS NOT ONLY BOND WITH EACH OTHER BUT LEARN SO MUCH ABOUT OTHER CULTURES AND OTHER PEOPLE ON OUR TRAVELS AND HOW MUCH INFLUENCE THEIR MUSIC CAN HAVE ON PEOPLE.
TED: AND WHEN YOU SEE GIRLS COMING IN THIRD GRADE, FOURTH GRADE, A YOUNG AGE LIKE THIS AND YOU WATCH THEM DEVELOP THEIR TALENTS AND SKILLS GROW. TALK TO US ABOUT THAT.
DANYA TILLER: THE GROUP OF SENIORS EXITING THIS YEAR HAVE BEEN IN THE CHOIR THE WHOLE TIME I'VE BEEN A PART OF THE CHOIR, SO SEVEN YEARS OR MORE THEY'VE BEEN IN THE CHOIR. SO THEY KIND OF FEEL LIKE MY CHILDREN. IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFICULT TO SAY GOOD-BYE TO THEM BUT I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT AMAZING YOUNG WOMEN THEY'VE BECOME. THEY'RE ALL CONFIDENT AND POISED AND THEY HAVE JOBS AND DO COMMUNITY SERVICE AND THEY'RE GREAT STUDENTS, THEY'RE GOING TO GET SCHOLARSHIPS AND GO TO COLLEGE. I FEEL THAT THE CHORUS HAD A LITTLE BIT TO DO WITH THAT, BUT THEY'RE GENUINELY GREAT HUMAN BEINGS.
TED: DO YOU FEEL THAT THE CHORUS HAS HAD A LITTLE BIT DO WITH THAT?
GRETCHEN MONROE: DEFINITELY.
TED: TALK TO US ABOUT THAT.
GRETCHEN MONROE: ALL OF THE GIRLS ARE VERY INTELLIGENT, WITH SCHOOL AND ALSO, THEY'RE WISE. THE TYPE OF PEOPLE IT ATTRACTS ARE PEOPLE WHO NOT ONLY ARE SMART, BUT ALSO HAVE AN EYE FOR COMPASSION AND EXPRESSION. AND COMES IN MANY FORMS. SOME ARE SHY ABOUT IT, SOME THROW IT ALL AROUND, BUT JUST THE COMBINATION OF ALL OF US PUTTING OUR INDIVIDUAL EFFORT TO MAKE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL -- THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT.
TED: AND IT ALSO TAKES A COMMITMENT. YOU LEARN ABOUT COMMITTING TO SOMETHING AND STICKING TO IT, I WOULD IMAGINE.
GRETCHEN MONROE: OH, YEAH.
TED: IS THAT ONE OF THE LESSONS YOU LEARN?
DANYA TILLER: IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S NOT ALWAYS PRESENT IN ALL FAMILIES AND WE DO HAVE THOSE WHO TRY IT OUT AND IT'S NOT FOR ME, BUT THOSE THAT JOIN AND REALIZE WOW THIS IS SOMETHING I LOVE, THEY STAY WITH IT AND IT DOES REQUIRE COMMITMENT AND LOYALTY AND A TIME AND PUTTING IT ABOVE SOME OTHER THINGS SOMETIMES BUT THEY'RE ALWAYS GLAD THEY DID.
TED: WHEN YOU SEE THEM, AT CARNEGIE HALL, WHAT DO YOU THINK?
DANYA TILLER: THAT WAS PRETTY SPECIAL. IT WAS A CAREER HIGH FOR MYSELF AS WELL TO BE ON THAT PODIUM WITH THEM. BUT LOOKING INTO THEIR FACES, AS THEY STOOD IN THAT HISTORIC SPOT AND SANG HISTORIC MUSIC WITH A BEAUTIFUL PROFESSIONAL ORCHESTRA, IT WAS BEYOND -- IT WAS BEYOND HEAVENLY FOR ME. I ENJOYED EVERY SECOND AND I LOVED TO MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THEM WHILE WE WERE SINGING TOGETHER IT WAS GREAT.
TED: CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN FOR ALL OF THE SUCCESS AND CONTINUED SUCCESS THERE, THE GIRLS CHORUS, GOOD LUCK TO YOU, WHATEVER COMES NEXT. YOU'VE HAD A PRETTY SUCCESSFUL CAREER SO FAR. BEST OF LUCK.
GRETCHEN MONROE: THANK YOU.
TED: THANKS FOR JOINING US.
TED: THURSDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION DIANE DOUGLAS WILL TALK ABOUT A VARIETY OF EDUCATION ISSUES AND CORPORATION COMMISSION ANDY TOBIN EXPLAINS WHY HE WANTS TO CUT THE COMMISSION'S OVERSIGHT. THAT'S ON THE NEXT ARIZONA HORIZON. THAT IS IT FOR NOW, I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US, YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING!

Danya Tiller: Artistic Director and Member of The Phoenix Girls Chorus

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