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Legacy Matters: Faubion Students Find their Place in Bella Voce Chorus and Earn Invitation to Perform at National Conference

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, October 18, 2022
  • The Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus have been hard at work on seven songs that they'll perform at the 2023 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference that is to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February. Bella Voce is one of only two middle school choirs in the country chosen to perform.
  • The Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus have been hard at work on seven songs that they'll perform at the 2023 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference that is to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February. Bella Voce is one of only two middle school choirs in the country chosen to perform.
  • Liz Turner, along with Assistant Director Courtney Wilson, directs the Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus.
  • The Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus have been hard at work on seven songs that they'll perform at the 2023 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference that is to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February. Bella Voce is one of only two middle school choirs in the country chosen to perform.
  • The Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus have been hard at work on seven songs that they'll perform at the 2023 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference that is to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February. Bella Voce is one of only two middle school choirs in the country chosen to perform.

McKinney, Texas – The Faubion Middle School choir department is on a roll.

Last year, under the direction of Liz Turner, the school’s Cambiata Tenor-Bass Chorus earned the highly coveted status of TMEA Invited Choir. This year, Faubion’s Bella Voce Chorus—also led by Turner—is one of only two middle school choirs in the country to receive the prestigious invitation to perform at the 2023 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference that is to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February.

It’s an honor that was earned through submitted recordings of Bella Voce performances over the past few years, a burgeoning legacy that Turner and her students are forming from the ground up. “I submitted three years of recordings, and the invitation to perform is based on the success of the choirs that came before this one,” she explains.

girls in choir singing while making hand gestures

Faubion Middle School’s Bella Voce Chorus warm up as class gets underway.

Listening in during class, it is apparent, even to an untrained ear, that the 52 seventh and eighth grade girls of this year’s Bella Voce Chorus are capable of carrying the torch, and they are currently hard at work on seven pieces to perform at the national conference.

As Turner directs, notes rise and fall in elegant waves while Assistant Choir Director Courtney Wilson moves among the girls, listening intently as she teaches and corrects and sings along with them. Turner hears a couple of notes that are off in one section. She stops the choir and zeroes in on the wayward tones and helps get the section back on track.

This is the school’s top girls choir, where one’s place is earned through audition, and Turner has high expectations. When something is not right, she tells them plainly. She is direct in her feedback—but kind—and she takes full advantage of each teachable moment.

And, the girls adore her.

Liz Turner singing a note in class

Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus Director Liz Turner teaches as her students work through a song.

When they talk about Bella Voce, the conversation almost immediately turns toward their love for Turner and the bonds they have forged with each other. That sentiment is reflected in the words of Felicity Chambers (8) as she talks about the choir being chosen to perform at the national conference, “It’s really cool that we get to go,” she says. “And, if anybody deserves it, it would be Mrs. Turner because Mrs. Turner is so amazing. She’s the best choir director ever. I hope that we represent McKinney ISD well, and I hope that we can make Mrs. Turner proud.”

As the discussion continues, it becomes quickly apparent that Turner’s impact goes well beyond her artistry as a choir teacher.

“She’s just truly helped me through a lot of hard times recently,” explains Addison Messenger (8). “She truly is like a mom to me, and I think we can all agree that she’s just always there for us, and we can always tell her anything. She’s one of the people that makes us the happiest, and we can always go to her if we’re ever having struggles.”

“I love how welcoming [this choir] is because Mrs. Turner is really nice,” adds Allie Howard (8). “She understands everything, and she’s like a mom to all of us.”

girls holding folders and singing

Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus work on material that they will perform at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference in February.

Briana Rodriguez (8) chimes in, “Mrs. Turner is a blessing because she does anything and everything for her students, and everybody appreciates her and her kindness.”

For her part, Turner’s goal is that the members of Bella Voce will find a place of belonging in choir. “We work really hard in our program to create a culture of kindness and compassion and really that sense of family—not just a tagline,” Turner says. “So, we work to make sure that every girl knows that they’re part of this organization, whether it be in a small group within their section or within the larger group.”

The girls come to Bella Voce from different backgrounds and experiences, so Turner kicked off the year with a lock-in to foster a tighter sense of community among them. “They’re involved in so many different things,” she says. “We’ve got athletes in here. We’ve got theatre…just a lot of girls from a lot of different backgrounds. We brought them together, so they can see their commonality. The opportunity to create this choir experience together has been our focus.”

At the same time, this is a varsity choir, and the material in Bella Voce is challenging. But, the bond between the girls has proved to be a strong foundation as they work to master the music. “I like how, even though [this music] is harder, everyone is struggling together,” says Zoe Bradley (7). “And, it’s really fun how we all can make jokes even if we’re struggling a lot. We will laugh about it and then get right back on track.”

“It’s just really nice getting to hear all the different parts come together and connect,” adds Tara Schroeder (8). “If someone messes up…we always try to help and tell them, ‘Maybe try working on this,’ and they normally get it in the next couple of times.”

girls in row singing

The Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus at work during class.

For Sara Gonzalez (7), the effort to master the material is worth it. “The music is harder, and so is the sight reading because it’s in three parts,” she says. “But, it’s also very fun and challenging, in a good way. I think just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not fun.”

“When we get something right, we all have a little, mini-celebration,” says Audrey Sather (8). “And, that’s one of my favorite parts about working in my section.” 

One song they’ll perform at the conference, called “We are Held,” has been specially arranged for them by Jim Wilson and Susan LaBarr. “We’ll premier it at this conference, and for all time it will say, ‘As prepared for Bella Voce Chorus from Faubion Middle School,’” says Turner. “And, we’re excited about that.”

As their time in class churns ahead, Turner has the girls set aside one piece of music and directs their attention to another selection that they’ll be performing called “As the Tree Stands Tall”. They read through the lyrics together, and the room buzzes with conversation as small groups coalesce across the riser to discuss.

girl looking at camera and smiling

The members of the Faubion Middle School Bella Voce Chorus work hard — and have a lot of fun along the way.

Turner explains that the song touches on the theme of putting down roots and experiencing the reward of hard work. “It’s about looking at how deep those roots are and the fruit of the labors that they put into this…and what is that going to look like for each of them?” says Turner.

Talking with members of the choir, it’s obvious that they’re heavily invested, that they’ve sunk their roots deeply into the Bella Voce Chorus. Here, they have found a place for themselves and for others who will come after them. “If choir wasn’t here, I just wouldn’t feel the same because it’s really helped me grow as a person and be confident and be myself,” says Anvita Rastogi (7).

As other members of the choir nod in agreement, the thought is echoed by Addison, “Without choir, I don’t think I would be the person I am today,” she says. “I’ve truly found my people—people I can rely on and that truly mean family to me. It’s just changed me so much as a person. It’s made me happier, and it’s made me improve as a singer.”

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