New Cadet Choir for 4- and 5-Year-Olds

Starting in September, Heartland Youth Choir is adding a new program for 4- and 5-year-olds that will focus on intellectual, social, and musical skill-building specific to that age.

We know that music is a wonderful way for children to express themselves. Early music education provided by music specialists can also:
·       Increase brain function for social skills and reading skills.
·       Foster a child’s brain to deal better with stress when they are older.
·       Reinforce language development for future years.

Students will experience music through games, singing, playing, moving and reading.

The two directors of Cadet Choir have experience with pre-school students. Sandy Miller has a Mastery in Kodaly Music Training and is certified in the First Steps Program. While teaching at Johnston Elementary, she volunteered her time to teach pre-school music. Mary Bartemes taught elementary music in Indianola and is currently a music instructor at Dowling High School.

Weekly rehearsals are on Thursdays from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church. Fall semester rehearsals begin on September 5, 2019. Tuition is $160 per semester. Scholarship assistance is available.

For more information, contact Heartland Youth Choir at or 515-221-3922.

Click here to reach the registration page.

Posted on August 5, 2019 .

Open Rehearsals in September

Heartland Youth Choir will host two weeks of open rehearsals in September. It's a great way to learn more about HYC and its members -- and it's a lot of fun!

The rehearsals are free, and young singers from age 4 to grade 12 from all around Central Iowa are welcome to attend. Rehearsals are held at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church at 1240 66th Street.

If you have questions, contact us at or call 515-221-3922.

-- Cadet (ages 4 – 5): Thursdays, September 5 & 12, at 5:45-6:30 p.m.
-- Canto (grades 1 - 2): Thursdays, September 5 & 12, at 5:45-6:40 p.m.
-- Cantilena (grades 3 - 4): Thursdays, September 5 & 12, at 6:45-7:45 p.m.
-- Chanté (grades 5 - 7): Tuesdays, September 10 & 17, at 6:30-8 p.m.
-- Cantemus (grades 6 - 8): Mondays, September 9 & 16, at 6:15-8:15 pm
-- Chamber (grades 9 - 12): Sundays, September 8 & 15, at 2-5 p.m.

Posted on July 28, 2019 .

10% Match From Principal Charity Classic

Heartland Youth Choir is very excited to be part of the Principal Charity Classic Birdies for Charity program in 2019! Donations made to Heartland Youth Choir between now and the end of July will receive a 10% match (a $500 gift becomes $550) thanks to program sponsors Wells Fargo and Sammons Financial Group.

Those matching funds will be used for our scholarship program to ensure that financial need is never a barrier in a young singer's pursuit of music.

You can donate through the Principal Charity Classic website:…/birdies-for-char…/
You can send a check directly to:
Heartland Youth Choir 
P.O. Box 13436
Des Moines, IA 50310
You can make an online donation on our website:

Whichever method you choose, every dollar you donate (plus 10%!) goes to Heartland Youth Choir so we can continue to bring the highest-quality musical experiences to our singers. 
Thank you for your support!

Posted on May 29, 2019 .

Dr. Ann Cravero Joins Totally Treble Festival


Dr. Ann Cravero, associate professor of voice at Drake University, will guide warmups and a session on healthy singing habits at our Totally Treble Festival on February 23.

Dr. Cravero holds a Doctor of Musical Arts and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Music Education with emphasis on Piano and Voice from Bradley University. 

She is an active participant of The National Association of Teachers of Singing. Her voice students are national competition winners and have been accepted into prestigious programs and graduate schools

Dr. Cravero, an acclaimed mezzo-soprano recitalist and soloist, has been heard on stages in Italy, China, and throughout the United States, including repeat performances at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall.

The Totally Treble Festival, for young women singers in grades 5 - 12, will be held Saturday, February 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Bridge in Johnston, Iowa, 10025 NW 62nd Street. The cost is just $20 per person. During the day, singers will work with Heartland Youth Choir conductors, Dr. Cravero, and the a cappella group Boots & Cats from the University of Nebraska. Festival participants will give a free public performance at 2:30 p.m. to show off what they’ve learned.

Deadline for registration is February 8. Online registration is available at this link.

Click here for the Totally Treble Festival flier

Posted on January 21, 2019 .

Inside WinterSongs

Heartland Youth Choir will present its WinterSongs concert on Sunday, December 9, at 4:30 p.m. at Sheslow Auditorium on Drake University campus. All six of our choral ensembles will perform during a program that features 17 holiday songs from around the world.

We asked our conductors to provide some background on a few of the WinterSongs selections:

Canto: Eve Thomas, Conductor

Canto is singing “Star Light Medley” because it aligns with concepts the singers are learning in rehearsals. We started learning the piece by clapping and counting the rhythms and reading sol, la, and mi solfege syllables from the music staff. “Star Light Medley” ends with a beautiful message for peace throughout the world.  

Cantilena: Eve Thomas, Conductor

“On this Still, Silent Night,” combines two Christmas songs together. Both carols, “Still, Still, Still” and “Silent Night,” originated in present-day Austria in the 19th century. This arrangement gives Cantilena an opportunity to work on connecting each phrase with legato (smooth) singing.  

Chante: Sandy Miller, Conductor

Chante is singing “Hava Nashira (Come Let Us Sing Praise to the Lord)” because of its complex canon. This piece has long fluid phrases. At the beginning of the year, we concentrated our warm-ups on breathing and breath control. This piece allows our singers to experience the technique in a song. Although this is a canon, it is more complex than “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Singers experience harmonies that are not quite so traditional, making them better musicians.

Cantemus: Sandy Miller, Conductor

Cantemus is singing “S’Vivon,” a Hebrew song about Hanukkah, because of its interesting harmonies. This song has been challenging with the quick changes of music styles throughout.
It pushes our students to be independent in their singing parts.

Chamber: Jim Cacciatore, Conductor

“Psallite” by Michael Praetorius was originally published in the year 1609 and is sung in both Latin and German. It is a Christmas text with the following rough translation:

Sing psalms to the only begotten Son of God,

The Lord Redeemer, child, lying in a crib.

A little child who lay in a manger

All the dear angels pay him homage and sing beautifully to him.

Finale: Artistic Director Sandy Miller

The last song of the concert is entitled “All Is Well.” I picked this song for two reasons: One, it is the 200th anniversary of the writing of “Silent Night,” and this song is included in the piece. Second, I wanted the audience and singers to have the message as they leave the concert. Life may be hectic and the journeys we take will have ups and downs, but ultimately, all will be well.


Join us December 9 at 4:30 p.m. to hear these songs and much more! Tickets will be available for purchase at the door — $15 for adults, and $7 for students and seniors citizens.

Posted on December 8, 2018 .

Stuff Etc Fundraiser

Ready to get rid of the stuff that's cluttering up your house? Now you can organize your space and help Heartland Youth Choir singers at the same time. We've partnered with Stuff Etc in Clive. Donate your items to benefit HYC, and we receive 50% of every item sold. 


Posted on April 17, 2018 .

WinterSongs CDs and DVDs for Sale

If you didn't get a chance to order a CD or DVD of WinterSongs 2018 the day of the show, there's still time. They make great gifts for those who were unable to enjoy the concert live and precious keepsakes to watch or listen to in the years to come. 

We will accept orders until December 18, 2017. Click here for an order form that you can print and mail with payment to the Heartland Youth Choir, PO Box 13436, Des Moines, IA  50310. 

Or, you can scan a completed form, email it to, and make your payment online at   

Again, orders are due by Monday, December 18, and items will be available in approximately 6 weeks.  

Posted on December 12, 2017 .

Guys Power Sing Sets Record

More than 140 male singers (grades 4 - 12) from all around central Iowa participated in the Guys Power Sing on Saturday, September 30, at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church. It was the largest group ever for the annual event, which is organized by Heartland Youth Choir. Activities were moved from the sanctuary into the parish hall to have room for everyone. The song-filled morning included special performances by the Valley Southwoods Bass Clef Choir and Drake University's a cappella group Brocal Chords. 

Conductors for the day were Jim Cacciatore, assistant conductor for Heartland Youth Choir; Jonathan Edgeton, vocal director for Johnston schools; and Edward Corpus, a local vocal coach and professor at Drake University. Other HYC leaders on hand to help out included artistic director Barbara Sletto, associate conductor Sandy Miller, and accompanist Kathy Gedler. 

The morning ended with a concert for family and friends. For videos of the performances, visit our Facebook page.



Posted on October 3, 2017 .

Open Rehearsals in September

Heartland Youth Choir will host two weeks of open rehearsals in September. It's a great way to learn more about HYC and its members. And it's a lot of fun! The rehearsals are free, and young singers from grades 1 - 12 are welcome. Rehearsals are held at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church at 1240 66th Street. 

Open Rehearsal Schedule:

Canto (grades 1 - 2): Thursdays, September 7 & 14, at 5:45-6:40 p.m.
Cantilena (grades 3 - 4): Thursdays, September 7 & 14, at 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Chanté (grades 5 - 7): Tuesdays, September 12 & 19, at 6:30-8 p.m.
Cantemus (grades 6 - 8): Mondays, September 11 & 18, at 6:15-8:15 pm
Chamber (grades 9 - 12): Sundays, September 10 & 24, at 2-5 p.m.

Posted on August 10, 2017 .

Thank You, Seniors!

It's always sad to see the seniors leave Heartland Youth Choir. But we can't wait to see what these five talented young singers will accomplish next. You go, girls! Abby, Becca, Bridget, Katharine, Madison. 

Posted on May 10, 2017 .

Ken Berg Returns to Meet the Composer Festival


Ken Berg will bring more than four decades of experience in music education, choir conducting, and song writing to Des Moines this April as the visiting artist for the Meet the Composer Festival.

The two-day choral festival, organized by Heartland Youth Choir, will take place April 7 – 8 at First Christian Church. More than 300 Iowa singers in grades 4 – 12 are registered to participate in the event, which will include a public concert each day of the festival.

Choirs from Ames, Des Moines, Grinnell, Sioux City, Waukee, and West Des Moines, as well as a large group of singers from Perry, will participate. Students will work with Berg during the day. Then choirs will perform individually and as part of a large festival choir during concerts Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Different choirs and different music will be featured each day. 

The singers are preparing music by Berg for the festival, and the choices are plentiful. Berg, music director and resident composer for the Birmingham (Ala.) Boys Choir, has published more than 150 original works in his career. He has written music for choirs of all ages, but he’s especially skilled at developing young voices.

Berg was director of choirs at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham for 28 years. He has served as an officer with the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and has also served on the Training Courses Committee of the Royal School of Church Music in America. Additionally, he is an adjunct instructor at his alma mater, Samford University.

He was also the guest artist for the first Meet the Composer Festival in 2007. Barbara Sletto, artistic director for Heartland Youth Choir and a composer herself, developed the festival as a way for young singers in her own choir and across Iowa to have a unique learning experience.

“When the students sing,” says Sletto, “I want them to feel a connection, not only to the notes and the words, but to why a piece was written, why it’s important, and how it can continue to live forever.”

As a celebration of a living artist and his work, the festival is the only one of its kind in Iowa. The concerts will include 21 songs by Berg, who will also share information about the motivation and inspiration behind his songs with audience members.

The concerts will take place at First Christian Church in Des Moines, 2500 University Avenue. Tickets are just $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and will be available at the door.

For more information about Heartland Youth Choir, please visit or call 515-221-3922. Email:

This is the 10th Meet the Composer Festival organized by Heartland Youth Choir. Previous Meet the Composer clinicians include Ken Berg, Jim Papoulis, Mark Sirrett, Z. Randall Stroope, Stephen Hatfield, Paul Caldwell, Sean Ivory, Jay Broeker, Rollo Dilworth, and Andrea Ramsey.

Ken Berg at the first Meet the Composer Festival in 2007. 

Ken Berg at the first Meet the Composer Festival in 2007. 

Posted on March 14, 2017 .

Registration Now Open for Summer Choir Camps

Heartland Youth Choir summer choir camps are open to singers in grades K - 8. Camps are held at West Des Moines United Methodist Church in Des Moines. 

SummerSongs is for students grades 3 - 8 with unchanged voices. It will take place July 30 - August 4. A concert on that Friday will cap a busy week of learning, making friends, new music, performance planning, and fun. Field trips to places like the Science Center, a waterpark, or Adventureland are scheduled for most afternoons. Click here for a registration form for SummerSongs. 

SummerTunes is for students grades K - 2. Singers will meet mornings only, from July 31 through August 4. In addition to learning new music and meeting new friends, singers will experience full choir rehearsals, musicianship training, and folk games. The SummerTunes singers will combine with the SummerSongs gang for a concert on Friday night of camp week. Click here for a registration form for SummerTunes. 

If you have questions, don't hesitate to call our office: 515-221-3922. Or email 


Posted on February 24, 2017 .

Chamber and Cantemus Choirs Sing at Vredenburg Performing Arts Series

When Heartland Youth Choir performs music from around the world next week in Chariton, the singers will have a deeper connection to the songs than you might imagine.

The Chamber and Cantemus ensembles of Heartland Youth Choir will perform at Johnson Auditorium on Thursday, March 2, as part of the Vredenburg Performing Arts Series. The songs on the program reflect choir tours the students took last summer.

The Chamber Choir, made up of high school singers from across central Iowa, took a trip to Europe, visiting Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Among the songs they will sing on Thursday is “Ave Verum,” one of Mozart’s most well-known compositions. On tour, the students had a chance to perform that song in Saltzburg Cathedral, where Mozart spent years composing and playing.

They will also sing “Bizakodo” by Hungarian composer Lajos Bardos, who wrote the song during World War II while his family was hiding in a coal cellar during a bitter house-to-house fight between the Germans and the Russians. The Chamber Choir sang the song in Budapest last summer.

“It was particularly moving to sing this song in a cathedral in Budapest, where many in the audience had been touched by that history,” said Barbara Sletto, artistic director for Heartland Youth Choir.

The Cantemus Choir will sing songs about friendship and goodwill that reflect their experiences last year at the International Choral Festival in Missoula, Montana. The invitation-only festival is held once every three years. Heartland Youth Choir was one of only 11 choirs invited in 2016 and the first Iowa choir ever to participate.

Members of Cantemus, an ensemble of middle-school students, met and sang with choirs from around the world during the four-day festival. Choirs of all ages represented Cuba, Hong Kong, Estonia, Costa Rica, Canada, Georgia, Poland, and the United States.

On Thursday, the students will sing “Friendship” by Cole Porter, the healing song “We Will Sing the World Whole Again,” and “Hope for Resolution,” written for Nelson Mandela’s inauguration.

“Performing in the International Choral Festival with singers from all over the world was an amazing cultural opportunity for HYC,” said Sletto. “We connected with hundreds of singers and thousands of audience members through songs sung in many different languages.”

Thursday’s concert in Chariton will begin at 7 p.m. in Johnson Auditorium. Tickets, $15 for adults and $5 for students, can be purchased at the door.

Posted on February 23, 2017 .

Student Singers Invited to Meet the Composer

Central Iowa singers in grades 4 – 8 with unchanged voices are invited to participate in the Meet the Composer Festival on Saturday, April 8, in Des Moines.

Ken Berg, music director and resident composer for the Birmingham (Ala.) Boys Choir, will be the visiting composer.  Berg has been teaching music for 40 years and has published hundreds of songs that are favorites of students and educators alike.

The festival will take place at First Christian Church in Des Moines. Individual singers will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, rehearsing with Berg, members of the Heartland Youth Choir, and other guest choirs. All the singers will perform together at a public concert at 4:30 p.m. at First Christian Church, 2500 University Avenue.

Singers interested in participating must register by March 7. The cost for registration is just $20. Click here for the registration form.

In advance of the event, singers will receive the music and a rehearsal recording of two works by the conductor so they can prepare on their own.

Berg specializes in the development of young voices. He has served as an officer with the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and has also served on the Training Courses Committee of the Royal School of Church Music in American. Additionally, he is an adjunct instructor at his alma mater, Samford University.

Berg was the featured artist at the first Meet the Composer Festival in 2007. This year, he returns to help Heartland Youth Choir celebrate the 10th year of this central Iowa choral music festival. 

The festival begins on Friday, April 7, when Berg will work with guest choirs from across Iowa. A public concert at 7:30 p.m. at First Christian Church in Des Moines will close out that first day of music.

In addition to five Heartland Youth Choir ensembles, the following Iowa choirs will participate in the Meet the Composer Festival:

Ames Children’s Choir

Des Moines North High School (2 choirs)

Grinnell High School

Perry ensemble

Siouxland Youth Chorus, Sioux City

Valley Southwoods, West Des Moines

Walnut Hills Choir, Waukee

Concert tickets will be available for purchase at the door: $10 for adults; $5 for students and seniors. Contact the HYC office at 515-221-3922 or for more information.

Posted on February 23, 2017 .

Guys Power Choir Starts in February

Guys Power Choir will start rehearsals on Sunday, February 12, with conductor Jim Cacciatore. The choir is for young men grades 5 - 12 who love to sing. Rehearsals every Sunday into April; two public performances; loads of fun! Save $10 by registering before February 5.

Posted on January 6, 2017 .

Holiday Concert Schedule for Heartland Youth Choir

Heartland Youth Choir singers will perform in three holiday concerts in four days this week in Des Moines.

Up first is the Holiday Program with Michael Lasser at the Des Moines Art Center on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Singers from both HYC's Chante and Chamber Ensembles will sing a lineup of traditional holiday tunes, with a few surprises.

The show is free, but reservations are required. Visit the Art Center website for information.

Second is the Cantilena Ensemble's date with the Canadian Brass on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium. The show is a production of the Civic Music Association and will feature a lineup of holiday favorites. The singers will also have a chance to meet and learn from the musicians during a master class before the show. Click here for more information. 

Finally, Heartland Youth Choir rounds out the busy week with their own holiday concert on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium. All five performance ensembles will perform, with all 150 voices of the choir coming together on stage for an uplifting finale.

The concert features 18 holiday songs, including traditional favorites like Christmas Bells Are Ringing, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Baby, It's Cold Outside. In addition, the choir will perform music from around the world with songs like the Estonian carol Ule Lume Lagedale, the Russian folksong Rushing Troika, and the Hebrew classic Ma Vue.

Joining the choir is the Windsor Brass, a musical ensemble from Windsor Heights Lutheran Church. The group is composed of a mix of adults and high school students from around the Des Moines metro area. The director is Jon Lewis.

For more information, visit 


Posted on December 5, 2016 .

Cantilena Choir Sings at Christkindlmarket Des Moines

Twenty-nine students from our Cantilena Choir (grades 3 - 5) sang holiday tunes at the first Christkindlmarket Des Moines event on Saturday, December 3. 

The market, inspired by outdoor holiday markets in Germany, was held at Cowles Commons in downtown Des Moines. Food, shopping, and entertainment highlighted the three-day event, which ended on Sunday.

The Cantilena Choir, under the direction of Sandy Miller and with accompaniment from Mary Bartemes, sang traditional holiday tunes, like Christmas Is Coming, Silent Night, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

You can hear some of those same tunes this Sunday at Heartland Youth Choir's annual holiday concert: Winter Songs. 

For more photos and videos from Saturday, visit our Facebook page. 


Posted on December 5, 2016 .

AutumnSongs Festival October 23

Join us for an afternoon of song, dance, desserts, and a fabulous silent auction at the AutumnSongs Festival on Sunday, October 23, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines. The event is the Heartland Youth Choir's first concert of the 2016-17 season and our major fundraiser. AutumnSongs is a family friendly event and is open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required. 

All five of our performance ensembles will sing during the afternoon. You can find the performance schedule on the invitation below. Heartland Youth Choir alumni are encouraged to join the full choir for the grand finale performance of "The Lord Bless You and Keep You."

A few highlights in the silent auction: a framed P. Buckley Moss print, 2 tickets to the Sound of Music performance in February at the Des Moines Civic Center, skybox seating at an Iowa Cubs game in 2017, and a one-week stay at a condominium in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates. 

Posted on October 13, 2016 .

Open Rehearsals at Heartland Youth Choir

Through September, young singers in central Iowa -- and their parents -- can check out Heartland Youth Choir by attending an open rehearsal for free. All rehearsals are held at Windsor Heights Lutheran Church, 1240 66th Street. 

Here's the schedule for open rehearsals in September for all of our ensembles:

Canto (grades K-2) -- Thursdays, 5:45 p.m.
Cantilena (grades 3-4) -- Thursdays, 6:45 p.m.
Chante (grades 5-7) -- Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.
Cantemus (grades 6-8) -- Mondays, 6:15 p.m.
Chamber (grades 9-12) -- Sunday, Sept. 25 only, 2 p.m. 

If you have any questions, please contact our office at 221-3922 or

Posted on September 15, 2016 .

Join Heartland Youth Choir Today!

Heartland Youth Choir is currently taking applications for new members for the 2016-17 school year. Application appointments are available for August 31 and September 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Or if those times don't work for your schedule, call us and we'll find one that does.

Students meet with one of our conductors to determine which of our six choirs is best for each student. The interviews are easy; no special preparation necessary, just a love of singing. In the video below, HYC Artistic Director Barbara Sletto and chamber choir member Becca give students a sample of what to expect. 

To set an appointment, call 515-221-3922 or email us at 

Posted on August 23, 2016 .