Atkinson choruses and composer Jim Papoulis create music
Posted on 03/10/2023

The hallways of Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School were filled with a beautiful melody, but it was one no one has heard before. It was being composed in real time with the fifth and sixth grade choruses and world-renowned choral composer Jim Papoulis. The song, which has yet to be titled, was written and recorded during the course of one school day as part of a song-writing workshop by The Foundation for Small Voices.

As the workshop began, Mr. Papoulis asked the students “What do you think we should write about?” “What kind of music do you like to sing?” As a result of their responses, the first verse of the song emerged through the students sharing their thoughts with the composer.

“Thank you for welcoming me into your world and letting me get to know you,” said Papoulis. “Being here with you helps me become a better human and a better musician. I hope that you feel like you’ve learned something about yourselves and your musical abilities as well.”

This unique workshop offered the Atkinson choral students the experience of creative collaboration and a new knowledge of how to write a song and the musical studies needed to do so including vocal exercises, lyrics, rhythm and instrumentation.

“Freeport has always been supportive of the fine arts,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “As the choral students learned the techniques used to create new music in the workshop with Mr. Papoulis, it is my goal to continuously provide our students with new and extraordinary opportunities to learn and grow their skills. By giving our students access to experts and a well-rounded education within our district, they are able to harness their passions and grow to be successful in all they do.”

As the day ended, the choristers were asked to share what they learned throughout the workshop and the different things you need to create a song.

“Words have meaning and when you combine the right words with music it activates almost all of your senses,” said fifth grade choral member Evangileen Ali. “By doing that, you help tell a story and the song you’ve written takes on a deeper meaning.”

Finally, with the help of their directors, Ms. Stephanie Arnell and Ms. Demolina Valonzo the fifth and sixth grade choruses gathered on the stage to perform and record their original music, officially making them song writers.

The song will debut at the Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School Festival of the Arts at Freeport High School on May 8 at 7 p.m.