Fifteen students participated in the Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir for the spring 2024 semester, which culminated in the choir’s Spring Concert held on April 25 at First Baptist Church. Photo by Gerald Major

The new Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir is bringing music education to the next generation of musicians

Growing up, Christian Vigé looked forward to choir practice every week and, at four years old, declared that he would grow up to be an orchestra conductor. Today, he is an accomplished pianist, organist and the music director and conductor at First Baptist Church. Last year, he and his wife, Alisa-Karen Vigé, decided to add even more music to their lives by starting the Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir. As parents of two young children, they recognized a lack of music-led enrichment programs in the community.

“We need a space for children in the Baton Rouge area to have safe and wholesome music education,” Vigé says. “It’s up to our generation to do something because these opportunities will no longer exist if we don’t keep carrying the baton.”

In September 2023, nine children arrived at First Baptist Church for the first pratice of the Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir. Throughout the fall semester, the group practiced weekly, culminating in performances in the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s Home for the Holidays concert, Festival of the Lights downtown and for residents of St. James Retirement Home.

“I grew up as a product of a program like this,” Vigé says, noting the longstanding success of the Livingston Parish Children’s Choirs, which have operated since 1991. “I grew up in a church where we had children’s choir, youth choir, handbell choir, drama, everything. And that’s how I got interested in music.”

Christian Vigé is the artistic director and founder of the Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir as well as the director of the Gathered Voices Choir and Music Minister at First Baptist Church. Photo by Gerald Major

Now, he wants to ensure that the next generation has the same opportunities to not only experience music but learn the art’s history, theory and vocal pedagogy, all while making lifelong memories and friendships.

“We’re filling the gap for kids who are homeschooled or attend schools that don’t offer a music education program,” Vigé says.

The mission extends beyond music education and friendship. Vigé wants students to see the value in giving back using their talents. The choir performs for local nursing home residents and volunteers with local nonprofits. “We want to show kids what it’s like to be a good community member and the importance of giving back using our gifts and talents,” Vigé explains.

Choir is more than singing. It is an art and discipline that develops strong character, artistic leadership, self-discipline and self-confidence, he says. But it’s also a lot of fun, with dress-up days and songs kids recognize from their favorite movies. Recently, Vigé encouraged choir members to come to practice dressed up as their favorite musical characters. “We had everyone from Mozart to Ana and Elsa,” he laughs. Songs range from traditional Christian hymns like The Lord Bless and Keep You to selections from movie soundtracks like Toy Story and Prince of Egypt.

For the spring semester, the group grew from 9 students to 15, and the Vigés hope it will continue to grow as word spreads, eventually creating different levels based on age and skill. Currently, the Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir is open to all students in first grade and older. Practices are held every Tuesday afternoon at First Baptist Church. For more information, find Greater Baton Rouge Children’s Choir on Facebook.