Walking into the space at 39 Culpeper Street in Warrenton, you may hear the sounds of piano emanating from a studio room, or the voice of an actress practicing for an upcoming musical. Above all, you will be met with a smile from Lachelle Yoder, who greets all students and visitors with the warmth and spirit in which Allegro Community School for the Arts was created.
Lachelle was four years old when she began playing the piano, and it was shortly thereafter that she started accompanying others. She still fondly remembers her fourth grade performance of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. In helping to create the vision for Allegro, she fostered the idea that learning the arts and performing the arts must go hand in hand. “Bringing the arts to life” is now Allegro’s mission as they encourage and provide opportunities for their students to perform in a variety of ways.
Young students of Allegro get an excellent education in the arts while learning skills that will last a lifetime. “There are a lot of life skills attached to music,” says Lachelle, and so the program seeks to build leaders who gain confidence through sharing their work. Students at Allegro learn how to focus, work with others, manage their time, and communicate with adults. Allegro is also called upon to provide entertainment at local events, giving students the opportunity to perform for others while supporting their community.
Allegro offers classes geared towards those 55. The program, called Thrive, includes a dance class specifically designed for adults with Parkinson’s disease, and their family and friends. The Thrive program also offers a multi-generational choir, allowing students to sing in different musical styles while learning how to read music. All Thrive classes also contain a social time for students to get to know each other.
Allegro’s programs are not confined to their studio. Each fall, they sponsor YabbaFest, a gathering of authors and bands who hold readings, give demonstrations, sign books, and perform. They host an open writer’s group, the Inklings, who meet weekly to offer support and critique. Every August, they hold Shakespeare in the Park, and in 2019 performed The Comedy of Errors. This summer, the school will also take over Warrenton’s summer concert series, which hosts bands and performances Friday evenings in July and August.
Allegro is a non-profit that depends on donations from the community. Not only do they manage their operating costs with these funds, but they offer scholarships to their students. In fact, since they have moved to their Warrenton location, they have been able to offer between $18 – 21,000 each year in scholarships.
Fauquier County is lucky to be home to the generous and talented people involved in Allegro. Not only has the group become a hub for local performers who want to engage in serious study of the arts, but it also provides a soul to the community, giving back through their artistic endeavors.
For more information visit www.allegrocsa.org.
by Erin McCarty