Christ Church Episcopal to launch free after-school music and academic program

Free program to start with 3rd-5th graders

A children's choir stands to sing from sheet music. The children are wearing red robes and holding electric candles.

Stock image provided.

The sound of music is alive in the hallways of Christ Church Episcopal as they prepare to welcome students to join a new after-school organization, the Church Street Choral Academy.

This new organization was conceptualized during the pandemic as staff and leadership saw how many students in Greenville County were “being left behind” because academic programs and after school activities typically offered during a school year were postponed due to COVID-19. As Christ Church and Greenville emerged from the pandemic, the Church Street Choral Academy began to take shape.

“Christ Church has a long history of responding to needs in the community by active involvement. The Greenville Free Medical Clinic was started by Christ Church members; Jasmine Road came together under our umbrella when it was founded. So, we saw, after COVID these critical needs for the children in our community and thought we could step in,” said Harrison McLeod, rector of Christ Church. “We know that studies show kids who are engaged in the arts have higher test scores and stay in school longer. And where we began to see the most potential was in a program that blended our well-established music department and arts enrichment with academic support.”

The CSCA was formed with a mission to inspire and positively influence the lives of young people through arts enrichment and academic support. Meeting twice per week after school, singers will participate in a choir rehearsal, receive piano and voice lessons, tutoring, and homework support, and receive dinner both nights. They will be eligible to earn money by regular attendance at rehearsals and performances and by progressing through theory and piano classes.

The inaugural choir will be made up of 3rd through 5th grade students but will expand as students age. Eventually, the program will offer opportunities for local, regional, national, and international travel, a week-long summer camp, and arts enrichment and activities throughout the year.

“This program is unlike anything in Greenville and will have a tremendous impact on kids and families in this city.”

Donald Duncan,
Christ Church Episcopal director of liturgy & music, CSCA choirmaster

A program of this size and scope would usually come with a heavy price tag to participate. But, by being housed at Christ Church Episcopal and through generous community support, all costs associated with the Church Street Choral Academy have been covered and the program is free to participants. No singer or their families will be asked for tuition or other fees.

“Often the students who would benefit the most from extra support or arts enrichment are the students whose families can’t afford the costly price tag associated with those activities. We don’t want money to get in the way for anybody. We’ve worked hard to eliminate this barrier to participation so that any interested student could join us, not just those who could afford it,” said Donald Duncan, director of liturgy & music at Christ Church and CSCA choirmaster.

Spaces in the first year’s program are limited to 30 choristers, so interested parties are encouraged to contact Duncan as soon as possible to schedule an audition. Potential choristers do not need to participate in their school, church, or other choir or have any musical training; but they should possess a love of music and a commitment to attendance.

“We will teach children to sing, no doubt, but that may be the least important thing this organization does,” said Duncan. “This program is unlike anything in Greenville and will have a tremendous impact on kids and families in this city.”

The program is currently auditioning 3rd through 5th grade students from across the Upstate with a first rehearsal date on Monday, Oct. 16. For more information or to schedule an audition, visit