Flip-flopping on HJR-3? Nay, says Don Steffy

Don Steffy (right) with Indianapolis Children's Choir colleague Henry Leck in 2008.

“The ICC is perceived as being a group of little children who sing,” acknowledges founding artistic director Henry Leck.

With the ICC board, staff and representatives from present and past members and their families, Leck is intent on getting the fuller story to the public.

“It’s staggering” to think in terms of the number and variety of people involved with and touched by ICC since 1986, offers Don Steffy, ICC executive director. Programs range from special classes for pre-natal, infants and toddlers, to primary through high school choirs across a full spectrum of Central Indiana’s population with satellites in various locations, in addition to the main site on the campus of Butler University.

“Poor and privileged children see the other side of life from their own through various kinds of experiences,” Leck explains.

While musical content primarily is chosen to be age and ability appropriate, there is an emphasis on works with breadth and depth “to reach into the human spirit in other ages and other places,” Leck explains. “We choose music to lead beyond the experience of singing to bring them into the culture, economics and social condition.

“The reach is beyond self, beyond ICC, beyond Indianapolis. How else but through music can [children and youth] internalize the poverty of a Mexican family?”

Leck explains ICC doesn’t do music just to sound pretty or learn X-number of songs. His deeper desire is “to find music that ennobles the child. The objective is to change lives. Children sharing their joy and accomplishments also change the lives of people in the seats.”

Philanthropy has become part of ICC’s mission.

“I have a sense that the spirit of philanthropy is dying,” Leck says. “It has to start with children, with sensitivity toward other children in need, keeping up with needs and world events.” ICC is “growing a generation of givers” through concerts for a cause.

“We are not an organization that is mired in its organization,” Leck adds. “We asked our advisory board of teachers from every [Central Indiana] school system, ‘How can ICC be supportive in the schools?’ They told us their needs and we are putting resource materials for free use on our website.”

ICC is impressive beyond its “branding as quality singing.”

— Rita Kohn

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