Hocking County Chorus Director Set To Retire After 35 Years

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Being part of the arts provides a unique cultural experience, opening the doors to the world outside of Hocking County.

For the past 35 years Judie Henniger has kept a clear view while leading the way for children in the Hocking County Children’s Chorus, but now is looking to retire.

The Hocking County Children’s Chorus is a non-profit community-based organization founded in 1980 by Henniger, who serves as the current director.

“I think when we started out we wanted to provide good music for the kids to experience and give them an opportunity to develop their talents in singing,” Henniger said. Acting was added to give them another experience.

There are many opportunities for children to develop their athletic ability, but there are not many opportunities for children to develop their artistic talents; the chorus provides an outlet for them, Henniger explained.

“It’s a wonderful experience for them and it satisfies that need within them,” she said. “There are so many different things you can learn from the arts that you don’t learn from sports, although sports has its own wonderful rewards.”

Besides Henniger’s passion for the chorus keeping her involved for so many years, “there hasn’t been anyone ready to jump in and take my place, but we are now looking.”

Henniger said she doesn’t want to see the organization die. The organization is actively seeking a mutually qualified person to lead the chorus. Once a replacement is selected, that person will have the opportunity to work this next year with Henniger.

“There is a lot of talent in Hocking County, period, and we are able to get to it,” Henniger said.

According to Henniger, it is much more expensive to be in a group like this in larger cities.

“When we first started we only charged $5, and now we charge $75 a year,” she said. The organization receives grants from the Ohio Arts Council and hosts fundraisers to keep costs down.

Over the years the Hocking County Children’s Chorus has achieved a reputation for outstanding quality performances in local concerts, the Southeastern Ohio Children’s Chorus Festival and many musical theater productions.

Many times, children are afforded the opportunity to perform with hundreds of other children, giving them more experiences.

Henniger explained the group has participated in numerous state, regional, national and international festivals traveling throughout North America. The Niagara International Music Festival in Canada and the National Festival of States in Washington, D.C., are two venues the chorus has performed in past years.

Henniger is pleased with so many of the children who have come through the choir over the years and who have gone on to become actors, professional dancers, choir directors, singers and many who have studied music or the arts.

“I just think it is a wonderful opportunity they get to develop their talent or even find out if they have a talent,” she said. “Some people, when they first start, might not sing well, but with the right amount of training they can become, at the minimum, acceptable.”

When Henniger was asked what kept her going for all of these years she said, “I am telling you, the reward for doing it is not monetary, but a spiritual feel-good reward. That beautiful pure tone is such a rewarding feeling before their voices change.”

Henniger graduated from Logan High School in 1956. She earned a master’s degree in music education from the Ohio State University and trained at Capital University with Zoltan Kodaly. Henniger taught elementary and junior high students for 25 years before retiring from the Logan-Hocking School District.

The Hocking Valley Children's Chorus strives to provide children within the community the opportunity to develop their interest and talents in music and theater. Henniger applauded the active board members, parents and those who have given so much support through the community, noting that several people have made significant contributions over the years.

Admission to Hocking County Children’s Chorus is based on desire and commitment. Enrollment is currently taking place for for grades third through ninth. Meetings and training will begin following the Hocking County Fair. Typically there are about 40 children that are enrolled in the chorus.

Henniger wants to help the new director so it is not such an overwhelming year for them starting out. For those interested in applying to lead the chorus, contact Henniger directly at 740-385-4781.