Our Mission & History

Our Mission

The Appalachian Youth Chorale (AYC) provides young musicians of Boone and the surrounding communities with a unique, high quality choral music experience that gives each musician an opportunity to find and share their voice! We sing to connect, create community, and discover artistry. While exploring music from a variety of cultures, our young musicians practice healthy vocal technique, music reading and notation, performance skills, and movement.

Our History

Youth choral music has existed in the High Country in many different forms in the community and the public schools. In 1981, Dottie Sykes founded the Presbyterian-Methodist Community Children’s Chorale for children in grades 3 - 7. At its height Dottie's chorale had 90 young singers representing different churches and denominations from all over the High Country.  After the singers outgrew Ms. Sykes's choir, they realized there was not another community singing opportunity for them. In order to encourage youth to keep singing, Appalachian State University’s Hayes School of Music, along with Dr. Pamela Hopton-Jones, formed the High Country High School Community Chorale in the fall of 2009. This choir was formed specifically to increase the appreciation of, and participation in, a high-quality choral music experience by the youth of the High Country of North Carolina.

The next iteration of community youth choirs in the High Country was the Watauga Youth Chorale, quickly renamed the Appalachian Youth Chorale. This youth chorale, formed in 2014 - 2017 by the Appalachian State University Community Music School, was directed by Mrs. Lisa Combs, former director of the Watauga High School choral program.  In the fall of 2019, the Appalachian Youth Chorale started again on the campus of Appalachian State University as part of the programming of the Hayes School of Music’s Community Music School. Dr. Meg Stohlmann, choral music education faculty member at App State, along with Brandon Winbush, choral director at Watauga High School, and Dr. Nicole Sonbert, Director of the Community Music School, recruited a group of 22 young singers ages 6 to 14 to be a part of the reformed group. In that first semester they performed both on and off campus, including a performance in the newly opened Appalachian Theater as guest performers in the Snowbelles Christmas programs. This last spring (2020) the group grew in size to 33 singers. We look forward to providing continued opportunities for the singers of the High Country as we all reimagine music-making in the time of COVID-19.