Since 1984, the Tucson Girls Chorus has provided girls in Southern Arizona with a space to sing and connect with others. The group, founded by Margie Kersey, started off with 63 girls. Now reaching its 35th anniversary, the chorus has hundreds of members, and a fourth branch is being developed to serve even more of the Tucson community.
The main headquarters can be found at George Mehl Family Foothills Park on the eastside. Two other meeting locations are Mary Belle McCorkle Academy and Helen Keeling Elementary.
The fourth branch, which will open opportunity up to those who live in Oro Valley, Marana the surrounding area, will meet at Church of the Apostles, which offered the chorus a space to practice for free. The northwest branch ran a trial period last spring to see how things would go.
Jess Edelbrook, community outreach director of the Tucson Girls Chorus, shared the need for the northwest location and knows what it’s like to live in the area.
“I know that there are many families in the northwest part of town who love singing and have girls who love singing, but it's just with Tucson traffic, it's difficult to get here once a week because we all tend to be really busy,” she said.
For now, this specific location will serve girls in first through sixth grade, but the program has intentions of expanding through high school, like the main location.
The program isn’t just about singing, though. Director Marcela Molina wants to prepare young girls for the future while hoping that “they just have fun.” “They create relationships, and they grow with us,” she said. “And when they’re ready to fly away then they just are amazing women.”
Chorus organizers said they hope their program makes up for the lack of music education in Arizona.
“You can learn so much through music, but unfortunately just the way education is tending to go in Arizona so many people are having to either completely cut their music program, kind of cut their music programs, or not offer as much support to their music teachers,” Edelbrook said.
Edelbrook added that the Tucson Girls Chorus isn’t a competitive effort. It’s really about helping the community and the girls within it.
“We're not there to compete at all with any existing music programs. We just want to supplement and have more singing.”
The Northwest location opens Aug. 22 and will meet at Church of the Apostles, 12111 N. La Cholla Blvd, on Thursdays. For more information, visit tucsongirlschorus.org.
Ambur Wilkerson is a University of Arizona journalism graduate student and Tucson Local Media intern.