Some Columbus Children's Choir members received an unexpected present under their Christmas trees: a trip to Spain in June to perform as part of the choir's New World Singers.
The Kiwanis Club of Columbus provided a $10,000 grant to the Columbus Children's Choir to help send children whose families could not afford to finance the trip to Spain.
"We're so thrilled to have the opportunity to send our singers," said Mara Balk, managing director of the Columbus Children's Choir.
Balk said last month she informed parents about the grant, but the children who are to benefit learned about it when they opened the certificates on Christmas.
The grant will subsidize contributions from the students' families -- and fundraising efforts on the part of all the traveling students -- for travel expenses to Spain.
About 35 New World Singers will travel to Spain as part of an international tour of the Columbus Children's Choir. The New World Singers are a select group of vocalists chosen from the 250 members of the Columbus Children's Choir, which comprises central Ohio students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The children's choir receives instruction and rehearses at the Broad Street Presbyterian Church, 760 E. Broad St. in downtown Columbus.
The New World Singers will spend nine days in June touring Barcelona, Segovia and Granada, performing publicly in each city.
The group will perform at Granada's International Festival of Music and Dance and participate in a cultural exchange with Escolania de Segovia, a children's choir in Spain, Balk said.
The $10,000 grant represents the largest single contribution made by the Kiwanis Club of Columbus and the largest the Columbus Children's Choir has received for an individual trip, Balk said.
After learning some students could not afford to make the trip, the choir and the Kiwanis worked to determine how much would be needed to ensure all the children who wanted to go could, Balk said.
The children's choir tours in the United States every year, but internationally only every three years.
"It's such an enriching experience," Balk said. "Not just from the performing, but from the bonding with other choir members and the diversity of culture they will get to learn."