The Royal Oak Children’s Choir began in the summer of 1997 under the name of the Royal Oak Capitol Choir. The purpose and philosophy was to give children and opportunity to learn through a comprehensive approach, integrating academics and experience. A summer workshop integrated patriotic vocal music with history and governmental lessons culminating with a touring experience in Washington, DC over the Independence Day Holiday.
Following the success of the 1997 workshop, a second workshop was organized in 1998 under the new name of The Royal Oak Children’s Choir. French language, Canadian history and French songs were taught in preparation for a tour which included Quebec City and Montreal.
1998-99 was the first season that ROCC operated as a nine month, tuition based group. Continuing the idea of integrated learning, the choir now offers three complete concerts each year, as well as performances for many local organizations and events. The theme of the 1999 Spring Tour was the science of the ocean and the history of clipper ships. Sea chanteys and music with the theme of water were performed in Boston and at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut.
In 1999-2000 ROCC turned to the music of Afro-America. The singers learned music from Africa, the slavery fields of Southern America and the Civil War. They traced back America’s musical history through protest, blues, jazz and gospel. Their studies included an in-depth look into the Underground Railroad. Tour 2000 took forty-eight singer and their chaperones to Charleston, South Carolina, Savanna and Atlanta, Georgia aswell as Cincinnati, Ohio to learn first hand about slavery, the Civil War and the black man’s journey to freedom. The highlight of this tour was a performance in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Tour 2001 took ROCC to the mountains and rivers valleys of Tennessee. Their repertoire included square dances, mountain ballads, reels and love songs. Their adventures included white water rafting and horseback riding. They were privileged to be able to perform at the portico of the Grand Ole Opry.
When selecting the ROCC 2002 theme of Music Theater with a tour to New York City, no one could have anticipated that the choir would also experience a significant part of American History. After attending two Broadway shows, workshops and clinics in dance and acting with Broadway performers, taking a trip to the top of the Empire State Building and performing at the Statue of Liberty, the singers made a solemn visit to the site where the World Trade Towers once stood. There the choir poured out their hearts in the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to the people of New York. The children headed Rockefeller to sing on the Today Show and be seen for the first time on national television. They were among the first visitors allowed back into the New York Stock Exchange after its closing on September 11.
With sunshine in their souls, starlight in their eyes and a song in their hearts, ROCC adopted the theme of “The Sun, the Moon and the Stars” for their next area of study. In June of 2003 they headed off to Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama! Singers learned first-hand about the history of the U.S. Space Program, rocketry, space and astronaut training. The choir performed at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and later, as the sun set and the stars came out on top of Burritt Mountain, ROCC performed “Fill the Night with Singing”, “EveryNight When the Sun Goes In”, “Catch a Falling Star” and “Blue Moon” to a crowd of over 250. As anunexpected bonus, especially for students of her namesake R.O. middle school, singers visited the birthplace and home of Helen Keller.
In the summer of 2004 ROCC choose to repeat one of its most successful trips to Quebec City, Quebec. Singers learned songs in French including some Canadian/French folk songs. But first the choir stopped in Toronto for a trip to the CN Tower and in Montreal to tour the former Olympic Village. ROCC also sang the Canadian National Anthem in the Mall, which was once the home ice arena for the Maple Leafs.
In June 2005 ROCC traveled by train across our country’s Great Plains to the Purple Mountains Majesties of Colorado. They had a chuck wagon supper, learned about the life of the American Cowboy and performed many folk songs around the campfire and horseback riding at the ranch. ROCC kids also sang about the beauty of our great country overlooking Pikes Peak at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
The 2006-2007 choir year experienced many changes with the retirement of Ms. Paree. The Bon Voyage concert was truly a memorable experience with a wonderful performance by the children and former alumni. This was also the first opportunity for the families to meet our Interim Director, Mr. Donald Milton, III. The choir then headed off to Boston MA. The highlight of the trip was a concert at the historic Old North Church.
The start of the 2007-2008 season kicked off with a successful retreat at The First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak in August. Interim Director, Mr. Milton brought the year to a great finish as the choir travelled to St. Louis, Missouri. They visited the great Arch, attended a Cardinals baseball game and toured the underground Caves, finishing with a fun time panning for "gold"!
In 2008-2009 our Assistant Director, Mrs. Jan Stewart stepped up to take the position of Executive Director and our beloved Ms. Paree (now Mrs. Behrens) agreed to come back and help as Accompanist to Mrs. Stewart. The Director’s team was rounded out with Kaitlyn Hahn (former charter ROCC member) as the Assistant to the Director. The highlights for the year were a trip & competition to Cedar Point where we won first place and a tour to Northern Michigan. The choir sang the "Edmond Fitzgerald" at Whitefish Point in the U.P., where the ship went down. They also had a wonderful time at Mackinac Island with a Bicycle Scavenger Hunt!
2009-10 brought Mrs. Behrens and Mrs. Stewart back to working together as Co-Directors! It was a very successful year made cohesive by the theme of "Jazz". Our Broadway Concert featured Jazz music from Broadway performed at the lovely Warren Community Center. The Grande Finale was our "Big Easy Tour" of New Orleans. The children sang solos, duets and ensembles with a Dixie Land band on a Mississippi River Cruise as well as "Down By the Riverside" and "Iko" with a Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief.
In our 2010-11 season, we welcomed Lauri Hogle as Assistant Director to our team. Jan Stewart remained as Artistic Director. We enjoyed a year featuring American Composers such as Aaron Copland, Randall Thompson and even the Black Eyed Peas! We toured Graceland in Memphis and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee in June and had a spectacular time! "I Gotta Feeling........it's gonna be a good year"...and it was! We even got to sing outside of the Grand Ole Opry, the second time for ROCC!
In the following season of 2011-12, we had to say goodbye to the wonderful Lauri Hogle as Jan Stewart remained as our executive director. This year's theme was "Color My World" that led us toa very colorful tour at Walt Disney World this past June! We also had the opportunity to be involved in the S.O.U.L. workshop in Detroit this season and collaborated with the S.O.U.L. performers as well as the Detroit Children's Choir! It was a year equally full of enrichment and excitement! At Walt Disney World we were blessed enough to sing on a DISNEY STAGE and have a workshop directed by Disney performers that really gave our kids the backstage experience! It was awesome!
This upcoming season we have had to say goodbye to our beloved Director Mrs. Jan Stewart. It is with heavy hearts we say goodbye to her. For the first time, we have an ROCC Alumni stepping into the director position as Kaitlyn Hahn becomes our current director. We are very excited for our upcoming season where we will learn about the underground railroad, early rock music and the Motown Music scene in Detroit! We are taking this year as an opportunity to connect to our local music roots and educate on the musical history and foundation that was and is Detroit!