York County Honors Choirs, now in its 21st year, is comprised of two excellent, auditioned community youth choirs, selected from 20 public and private school districts, homeschools, churches, or voice studios of York County, PA. The choirs have performed in local venues and national and international cathedrals and participated in choral workshops with several regional collegiate conductors.
This unique educational opportunity gives singers the ability to reach a higher level of musicianship with other students who have the same love of music, level of dedication, and desire for excellence.
After their tenure, Honors Choir alumni go on to achieve success in their communities, benefiting from their confidence and skills obtained through the program.
York County Honors Choirs is comprised of Senior Honors Choir (grades 9-12) and Junior Honors Choir (grades 7-9), and is organized and maintained by a volunteer Board of Directors.
York County Honors Choir began over 20 years ago. When York County’s 250th Anniversary Celebration was being planned, it was Louis Appell, Jr. who had the idea for a mass choir composed of students from all the high schools in the county. He approached Judy Simpson and Marty Hodges and asked them to make it happen. When the Anniversary year ended with a choir concert, the students were sad to see the choir come to an end. Mr. Appell encouraged them to keep the choir alive. So the organization went out on its own to raise funds to keep it going. A Board of Directors was established, and happily, Mr. Appell agreed to sit on the Board. He was an invaluable asset on the Board for several years. He continued to support the choir in various ways every year. In one of the early years he invited the entire Senior Choir to his home, where he grilled burgers and dogs for everyone!
In December 2005, the Pennsylvania Society selected Louis Appell, Jr. as recipient of the Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award. The gala was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. When Louis was asked to accept this recognition, he invited the Senior Honors Choir to go to New York with him and be part of this memorable event. Louis so loved York County and he wanted to showcase our students rather than have the spotlight on just him that evening. In a letter to York County Honors Choir’s Board Chair, Judy Simpson, Louis remarked, “I look forward to the choir being the high-spot of the evening!”
As part of the program that evening, the Choir sang “For Good,” from the Broadway show Wicked. The lyrics of that song captured what Mr. Appell meant to the Honors Choirs, to York, and to Pennsylvania.
I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them
And we help them in return.
Well I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better.
Because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good.
Recently, Judy Simpson noted, “The influence of Louis Appell, Jr. will be felt in York County for generations to come. His love for this community and his wonderful support of projects developed for York County are legend. He encouraged so many to do so much more than they ever imagined they could do. As the song “For Good” tells us, “People come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn… and we have all been “changed for the better”.
Powder Mill Foundation has been Honors Choirs’ strongest supporter, allowing the organization to continually offer advanced music education and performance to York County students. Its contributions of funds to the York County Community Foundation Honors Choirs funds – most recently the Judy Simpson Fund – has been so extremely generous. This gift, and this fund, will ensure that York County Honors Choir can provide this excellent music opportunity to hundreds more York County students for years to come.”
For more information about the Honors Choir, please visit www.theYCHC.org