The Eastern Area Youth Chorale is a non- profit community organization that pulls its members from the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Currently, we have members from the Gateway, Franklin Regional, Saltsburg, Pine Richland, Penn Hills, Plum, Squirrel Hill and Riverview school districts. The organization is made up of three choirs. The first is a training choir, Prelude, which meets annually from March through May and gives third- sixth graders an opportunity to learn to read music and learn proper singing technique. After a satisfactory completion of Prelude, members can audition for the primary choir, nicknamed EAYC. These students are in the fourth – ninth grade. Those who show commitment can continue with the organization and become members of the Senior Select Ensemble, normally from ninth- twelfth grade. Pre-prelude fun classes are taught to interested 2nd and 3rd grade musicians. Vocal camp is held in July to give basic instruction to those community members that enjoy singing and are in 2nd- 6th grade. If interested, camp members could also be invited to enter EAYC in the fall.
Formed to complement existing school music programs, the EAYC experience provides members with the opportunity to receive professional training specifically designed for their age group. Emphasis is placed on developing healthy vocal technique, individual responsibility and discipline, and exposure to quality choral literature in the weekly choral rehearsal and vocal class. A touring choir normally travels to perform and has visited Philadelphia, Toronto, Kentucky, Tennessee, Boston, Vermont, Niagara Falls, Disney and New York City. In 1997, the choir took a memorable trip across our country to Phoenix to represent the eastern US in an International Festival with many other choirs from various countries. We have also attended festivals in Niagara and Toronto. In the summers of 2000, 2005, and 2010, the choir traveled to England, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Austria enjoying sightseeing and performing in some beautiful places. During the 2005 trip, we were fortunate to sing for Mass at the Vatican in Rome and as part of the International Choral Festival in Salzburg, Austria. In summer 2015, we were thrilled to travel to South Africa. We will travel again to Europe in 2018! These trips are not the focus of the choir but “icing on the cake”.
This small, select group is made up of high school students who have excelled in earlier years. They perform both locally and can attend our special tours.
This choir is the first choir in our performing organization. The members range in age from 4th through 9th grade. They meet weekly on Sunday evenings from 6:30 – 8:15 for rehearsal and musicianship class.
Prelude is our training choir. It meets from March through May each year and gives students a great start on proper singing technique and beginning musical literacy. Many Prelude members have the opportunity to join EAYC the next fall.
Barbara Spiri – Director
Barbara L. Spiri is the founder and artistic director of the Eastern Area Youth Chorale located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a professional music educator with over twenty-five years of experience and recently retired from teaching music in the Penn Hills School District, where she was also the Music Coordinator K-12 for the district. She currently teaches privately (both vocal and keyboard) and vocal/theory classes for her choir members as well as coaches vocalists for musicals and shows.
Mrs. Spiri is dedicated to excellence in choral and vocal performance as well as committed to arts education. In 1993, she organized the Penn Hills Musical Alumni in a 30 year tribute to the high school’s musical theatre. This group continues to do summer stock shows at their alma mater. Mrs. Spiri holds a Master of Music with a Kodály Emphasis from Capital University. She currently teaches Level 3 methodology and folk song, conducting and choir in the summer course at the Carolina Kodály Institute at Lenoir- Rhyne University in Hickory, NC. She sits on the board of directors of the PHAME Foundation as a founder and is a member of Chorus America, Music Educators National Conference, the American Choral Directors Association, Organization of American Kodály Educators, and the American College of Musicians.
Nicole Henline – Administrative Assistant
Nicole Henline has been working with the choir for over 10 years. She holds a masters degree in Education and bachelors in both English and Business from Duquesne University. She is currently the director of the Monroeville Public Library.
Andrew Smith – Accompanist
Mr Smith is the accompanist for the Eastern Area Youth Chorale. He is a professional musician with a Bachelor in Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a Masters in Music, piano performance from Carnegie Mellon University. Andrew is a private piano instructor and freelance vocal accompanist and pianist. In addition to EAYC, Andrew was the accompanist for the Tri-County Choral Institute.
Amanda Staymates – Instructor
Mrs. Staymates is an adjunct instructor with EAYC. She has the distinction of being one of the charter members. She graduated from Westminster College in 2005 with a Bachelor of Music Degree and a minor in Spanish. She has her Masters of Music Education with a Kodaly Emphasis from Capital University. She teaches general music K-6 and 4th/ 5th grade chorus at Saltsburg Elementary School in the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District. She is also the director of the Universal United Presbyterian Church Choir.
Amy Davidson – Instructor
Amy Davidson teaches vocal and instrumental music at McClellan Elementary School in the West Jefferson Hills School District. She graduated from Penn Hills School District in 1995. She holds a Masters of Music Education from Duquesne University and a Bachelors of Music Education from Clarion University. She also received her Kodaly certificate from Lenoir- Rhyne University in 2014. Amy was a charter member of the Senior Select Ensemble when it was created in 1994.
Alicia Danenberg – Instructor/Manager
Alicia Danenberg, a graduate of Penn Hills High School, is also a graduate of Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania where she earned her degree in Music Education. Alicia currently works for Chatham University as a Program Development Coordinator, where she also directs the Music and Arts Day Camp during the summer months.
Alicia is very excited to return to EAYC as an instructor as she was a charter member of the first Prelude class in 1999. She works diligently to share her passion of music with the choir.