The Global Virtual Choir Story

Continuing the mission of the World Children’s Choir

In December 1989, Sondra Harnes, Founder and Artistic Director of the World Children’s Choir, had a vision of children all over the world singing together for peace. The World Children’s Choir hosted choirs and ensembles from abroad, and traveled internationally.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought all choir activity to a stop. At first, Ms. Harnes led sing-alongs on Zoom for her students and choir members, all the while looking for something that would make it possible to sing online together with no timing problems. In November 2020 she learned about JackTrip and a new device, the Virtual Studio, developed by the parent of singer in a children’s choir on the West Coast of the United States that made it possible for those within a 200-300 mile radius of a JackTrip server. Soon after she found Easy Virtual Choir. This service, another technological miracle and gift to the world, makes it very easy for anyone to make virtual choir videos. Since then, Ms.Harnes and the singers, with the help of dedicated volunteers, have learned how to do all of this and keep alive WCC and the possibility of singing together as a group.

James Selway, WCC associate director, wrote a new song of hope and love for the Choir – one that could be shared with the world. Rehearsals began for “Love Sings a New Song for the World”. Several former members and graduates were invited to learn and record the song, which had its first performance online on Saturday, June 19, 2021. We hope that after you watch the video, you will like it as much as we do, learn it, and record your part for our new virtual choir video.

The World Children’s Choir serves as a voice for children worldwide — giving voice to the interests of all children, celebrating cultural diversity through music, promoting positive international relations, and asking people to work together to create a peaceful, healthy world for children. The children learn how music and art expresses emotion, creates shared experiences, bridges differences, tells stories, produces beauty and enriches others. We believe that working together to produce beautiful music and other kinds of art enables the children to create friendships based on mutual understanding and respect. By bringing children from many cultures and nations together in song today, we can sow the seeds of a more peaceful world tomorrow. The choir has been appointed to the Artists Roster of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Performances have been given for former U. S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and; Queen Noor of Jordan, Queen Sofia of Spain; Justices of the United States Supreme Court; on numerous other occasions at the White House, the Kennedy Center, on Capitol Hill; for national and international television broadcasts; and in international concert tours and cultural exchanges.

Choir Directors

Sondra Harnes

Founder & Artistic Director

Sondra Harnes is a lyric soprano, pianist, voice teacher, and conductor. Her mother taught her to sing when she was six months old. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Southeast Missouri State University, Master of Music from The Catholic University of America, and sang in the Professional Studies Program at the Juilliard School. During her distinguished career she won many contests, performed on radio and television, appeared with numerous symphony orchestras, oratorio societies, opera companies, and in concerts at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, United Nations, and Carnegie Hall. She has coached professional singers and given private lessons, master classes, and workshops for voice students of all ages; conducted choirs and operettas productions throughout the United States, Canada, and Bermuda. She developed her singing program for young children at the Montessori School of Mclean in Virginia. In March of 1990 at the request of several World Bank families, Ms. Harnes founded the World Children’s Choir. She conducts rehearsals, season concerts and special event performances. She has produced five World Children’s Choir CDs, and three recordings that help children learn how to sing.

James Selway

Associate Director

James Jillson Selway is a graduate of The Juilliard School and The Catholic University of America. Mr. Selway maintains a Suzuki piano studio of 35 students. He is organist and Youth and Children’s Choir director at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, Virginia. As piano clinician specializing in Suzuki piano, Mr. Selway has taught piano and given music theater workshops at many institutes and workshops in the United States, Canada, and Bermuda. Mr. Selway has performed in opera and oratorio. Mr. Selway is the composer of many pieces for voice, treble and mixed chorus, and for solo piano. “With One Dream,” written after September 11, 2001, has been recorded by the World Children’s Choir and has been published by Warner Brothers. He has composed many songs for World Children’s Choir, and for both adult and youth choirs at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.