History & Mission
The World Children's Choir (WCC) is a non-profit organization founded by its current Artistic Director, Sondra Harnes, along with Rosalind Paterson (Choir President) and Judith Penniman (Choir CFO) back in 1990.
The Choir owes its creation to the spirit of glasnost. In December 1989, just weeks after the Berlin Wall was torn down, the Soviet Union's Red Army Chorus sang at the Kennedy Center. It was the emotional reaction of the Concert Hall audience to their astounding promise of international friendship through song that led choir founder Sondra Harnes to form the World Children's Choir. In that moment, she had a vision of children from all over the world singing together for peace.
The Choir strives to serve as a voice for children's interests worldwide by celebrating cultural diversity through music, promoting positive international relations, and asking people to work together to create a peaceful, healthy world for children. Through singing, WCC members explore musical content, and use music, art, and special activities to mediate cross-cultural differences and become peacemakers. The children learn how music and art expresses emotion, creates shared experiences, bridges differences, tells stories, produces beauty, and enriches others.
By pursuing our mission, we believe that we contribute to building a world of peaceful respect, friendship, cooperation, and prosperity among nations. We believe that working together to produce beautiful music and other kinds of art enables the children to create friendships based on mutual understanding and respect. By bringing children from many cultures and nations together in song today, we can sow the seeds of a more peaceful world tomorrow.
How We Fulfill Our MissionWe fulfill our mission in three ways:
- First - to local children of all cultures, nationalities, and economic circumstances, we offer professional instruction and unique opportunities to sing with beauty, artistry, and joy.
- Second - we direct our music to inspire our audiences, reinforcing and sustaining our belief that by working together, we can truly create a peaceful, healthy world.
- Third - through the projects and activities of our Voices for Children Campaign (benefit concerts, CD sales, and community outreach), we raise money and coordinate activities to directly support children in need, both locally and throughout the world.
- Highest Quality Music Education: Enabling every child who wants to sing in WCC to do so, and receive professional training in the vocal arts and performance opportunities.
- Cultural Diplomacy - Promoting Tolerance and Peace through Music: Raising awareness of the needs of children world wide, particularly those living in underserved communities affected by poverty, violence, and conflict.
Some of Our Charitable Works
Our Choir has helped raise money for national and international children's causes and organizations such as the Children's Defense Fund, UNICEF, Childhelp USA, Save the Children, the United Nations Refugee Educational Trust, and the CARE Foundation. Additionally, the Choir raised funds to purchase an entire year's worth of school supplies for children in Morolica, Honduras, whose village was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch. WCC also partnered with St. Peter's Episcopal Church to raise $12,000 to build a blood-testing wing in the Kgabo District Mission Clinic in South Africa.
The Choir also performed for former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev and guests at the Embassy of the Russian Federation as part of a very special dinner to raise funds for Childhood Leukemia Research.
Where We've PerformedThe Choir has been appointed to the Artists Roster of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We are proud to have performed for:
- Presidents George. W. Bush, William H. Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Barack Obama
- Queen Noor of Jordan
- Queen Sofia of Spain
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Kofi Annan
- Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court
- at the White House
- at the Kennedy Center
- on Capitol Hill
- for national and international television broadcasts
- New York City
The Choir's Beliefs
- The world hungers for messages of hope, peace, love and joy. People's hearts and souls are opened and their lives enriched when listening to and singing with the Choir.
- All children can learn to sing beautifully and can be inspired to creatively contribute to society throughout their lives.
- All children deserve the joy of creative self-expression, regardless of their social or economic conditions.
- Through the discipline of these musical experiences, children can gain self-discipline, respect compassion for others, and a concern for the environment.
- Working together to produce beautiful music will enable the children to create friendships based on mutual understanding and respect.
- By bringing these future leaders of nations together in song today, we can sow the seeds of a more peaceful world tomorrow.
- People who see and hear children of the world united in song will be reminded of their need to support children's causes, and will hear our message that all of us are responsible for making the world a better place.
- World leaders whose hearts are touched by these children's voices will pursue their important work with an even greater appreciation for what is possible when differences are set aside for a greater good.
- Participation as a WCC singer, volunteer, or audience member helps transform individual and community attitudes, and expands capacities for friendship, love, compassion, tolerance, generosity, respect, and peaceful reconciliation.