Renowned Austin Girls Choir to give concert in North East June 22

Austin Girls' Choir's tour ensemble, directed by a former Havre de Grace resident, will be in North East on Wednesday, June 22, to sing a free concert at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary Anne's Episcopal Church at 315 S. Main St.

Twenty-one girls age 10 to 18 will present a program ranging from choreographed swing tunes to light classical works. Much of their repertoire is in four- to six-part harmony, and is considered difficult by adult standards.

The choir draws girls from Austin, Texas, and its surrounding communities.

Artistic Director Sara Burden-McClure grew up in Havre de Grace and attended Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory as a special student at age 15. She started serving as a church musician at age 11, and began directing choirs at 13. After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy, she earned her bachelor's degree in music at Oberlin College Conservatory.

Burden-McClure said she works with each choir member in each level, teaching them to read music, recognize and sing note intervals, sing scores at sight and understand basic music theory and harmony concepts. Austin Girls' Choir's ensembles sing about 40 performances a year. The music the girls learn encompasses Renaissance to present day.

Every June, an AGC tour ensemble makes an adult-level concert tour, singing about a dozen concerts in a chosen area of the U.S. or Europe. The choir visited Italian cathedrals from Rome to Venice in 2007, the mid-Atlantic region in 2008 (including a performance for the president in the White House and singing full Evensong at the Washington National Cathedral), New Mexico in 2009 and south central Texas in 2010.

This year's tour takes the group from Niagara Falls to New York City, with performances in Angola, Rochester, Corning, Philadelphia, North East, Princeton, Hillsborough, N.J., andNew York.

Austin Girls' Choir was begun by Burden-McClure in September 1990, as what she describes as "a three-month experiment in single-gender education." A special request from then Texas governor-elect Ann Richards for the choir to sing for her inaugural prayer service extended its tenure to January 1991, and Burden-McClure found there was enough ongoing desire for a girls' choral organization to continue the project.

Burden-McClure has arranged concerts widely in the U.S. and Europe. She also holds degrees in communications and hydrogeology and has worked in broadcasting and advertising. Her husband's position at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary brought them to Austin in 1988.

In addition to leading Austin Girls' Choir, Burden-McClure is also director of music at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Austin and parent of a son.

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