By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Western choral music can be dated back almost to the beginnings of the church.

The primitive “one part” Latin text used for prayer and masses was strictly reserved for those in the clergy.

As choral music became more complex — adding additional parts and harmonies — churches continued their exclusionary ways. Females were not allowed to take part, using boys instead to sing the higher octaves.

Fast forward a few hundred years and you’ll find groups like the Angelica Cantanti Youth Choir, where everyone has a voice.

“We have kids that come from all over the Twin Cities,” said ACYC Board Chairman Bill Flatley. “It’s such a wonderful experience. They learn, they grow.”

Today, all five choirs — made up of 270 youths from second graders to high school seniors — are rehearsing together for their upcoming winter concert.

angelica cantanti youth choir WCCO Viewers Choice For Best Community Choir In Minnesota

Angelica Cantanti Youth Choir (credit: CBS)

This is the ACYC’s 37th year bringing choral music to the masses. In 1980, there was just one choir, and since then, thousands of kids from all over have participated and performed in some rather prestigious venues.

Yet in all this time, the group’s main purpose has never waivered

“To enhance the quality of life of all the kids that participate in our choirs through music,” Flatley said. “We teach them leadership skills and independence, and it really, it brings out a life-long love of music.”

Their musical selections are difficult. Timing and precision are paramount.

“We have four really top-notch, professional directors that expect a lot, even from our second graders and third graders,” Flatley said. “It builds character in that they have high expectations for the choirs, and they want them to sound the best that they can.”

Mix in a little bit of fun and all is well.

Although we saw the ACYC practicing and performing in a church, we should be clear that this is not a faith-based group, and they welcome any young person with a desire to sing.