If you’ve joined us for a performance recently, you are probably familiar with his incredible singing and piano skills. Riley auditioned for and joined the SJBC in 2018 as a 3rd grader at the recommendation of his piano teacher and has been growing as a performer and leader ever since.
Riley is visually impaired, so he learns music somewhat differently from the other choristers. “I usually have the lyrics in braille, and my conductor gives me YouTube links to the songs so I can start memorizing the music. When we are rehearsing, Mr. Jacobson is great at helping me hear my part on the piano.” It’s also helpful for Riley to learn to play the pieces himself on piano; he even performed on the piano on our tour this summer!
Riley has grown during his time with SJBC. “It has been incredible to watch Riley learn how to advocate for himself,” said his mom Arin. “Since starting with the choir, his independence has flourished.”
For Riley, music is just one part of what makes the SJBC magical – unique experiences and friendships are just as important. “Some of my favorite SJBC memories are from touring. Once we stopped at a rest stop in Des Moines while on tour with the JV choir. Mr. Smith had us sing Love is Love is Love is Love right there! Imagine being at a rest stop and suddenly there is singing – that’s pretty crazy!”
“My first flight ever was from Chicago to Munich on our Concert Choir tour last summer. It was an amazing trip, but man, that flight was LONG.” Riley is grateful for the opportunity to bond with his fellow choristers. Some of his best friends are in the choir, and he loves getting to hang out with kids who are as interested in music and dedicated to singing as he is, like his friend Parker, pictured with Riley on tour in Austria.
This year marks Riley’s final year with the SJBC, and he’s excited to hear what the choir can achieve – and so are we! Riley and his fellow 9th graders have grown into strong singers and humble leaders who will do great things.
As we enter our 43rd Season, we are excited to see where our choristers will take the SJBC in the future! After the extremely difficult years we faced during the pandemic, we need your support now more than ever. It takes $400,000 to help our choristers grow and make beautiful music each season, and more than $160,000 of that comes from our incredible supporters and grantors, like you.