PIEDMONT -- For more than 30 years, the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir has connected children with music through choral singing, helping them achieve their highest artistic level, and providing them with instruction and opportunities for performance, near home and internationally.

The organization believes that choral singing enriches lives and offers opportunities for singers, musicians, families and communities to forge international relationships.

Each year, the organization holds one fundraising event, a chance to invite in the community and share with them what has been accomplished and the upcoming plans. Not a staid business meeting, the evening is one of fun, frolicking and festivities, and this year's promises to raise the roof on enjoyment.

On March 1, HS Lordships at the Berkeley Marina, with its sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding landscape, will be the setting for the "Joyful Voices Speakeasy Gala." Amid the Old World charm of HS Lordships, cigarette girls will circulate selling raffle tickets for an iPad air with a keyboard case and a wine-and-spirits Giggle Juice package while bouncers keep everyone on their best behavior.

The evening promises dining, dancing, a live auction hosted by Liam Mayclem (the KCBS "Foodie Chap") and expert music entertainment, all performed by PEBCC staff and alumni performers.


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Guests will be treated to 1920s- and 1930s-inspired songs, including the musical chops and comic stylings of Broadway Baby Lauren Eigenbrode, baroque-en (Down) alto Clifton Masey and the melodramatic soprano of Kate Offer partnered by the cool cats of the Nick Culp Jazz Quintet. The band will stick around for more music and dancing.

Alene Kemper, Gala co-chair and board of directors vice president, described the Gala as a community event.

"The Gala is for everyone," she said.

"This is not for a small group of Choir families, this is a community fundraiser for Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir. We really want to branch out and have more people understand who we are and the message we have for families and our community. I think all those people will benefit."

Mayclem will lead the live auction for a great array of items that fit a range of pocketbooks, including his own Food Crawl that will grant in-the-kitchen access to several restaurants. Other items on the docket will be a week at an English cottage, 10 days at a luxurious Kona, Hawaii, house for 10 people, a Pixar/Athena studios movie madness package and a Laurel Glen Winery tour and luncheon.

Once all the fun items are accounted for the highlight of the evening will commence -- the Fund-a-Need segment -- which for the past two years has raised $30,000 for choir scholarships. According to Executive Director Julia Richter, 43 scholarships were awarded in the past year.

This year's goal is higher and the plan is to use anything above $30,000 toward sponsoring an international choir for the tri-annual Golden Gate Festival scheduled for 2015. The festival is an international competition, something no other West Coast organization sponsors, and something integral to the PEBCC's mission of international exposure.

"This year, we're going to ask our donors to give toward a worthy national choir that would otherwise not be able to attend the festival," she said. "If we can, we'd like to sponsor more than one choir because it just enriches the experience."

Kemper hopes everyone takes the opportunity to participate in the organization's sole fundraiser, one she calls a strategic celebration designed to create community and further global outreach.

"I think that in many ways music and children are really important. I think in other ways art is extremely important for the community at large. So if you can combine them it's even better," she said. "It shows that the community cares about how children are being nurtured and exposed to a global community."

fyi
Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir Gala: 6 p.m. March 1, HS Lordships, Berkeley Marina. Tickets are $150, part of which is tax-deductible, 510-547-4441, http://www.piedmontchoirs.org/gala.