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Shea's echoes to young voices About 150 join in seasonal music program involving local and Buffalo choral groups

Ten-year-old Nathan Myles-Kitchen got his first peek inside Shea's Performing Arts Center on Sunday before walking onstage to perform.

"It looks amazing!" said the nervous fifth-grader.

Nathan sang with the Select Choir of Highgate Heights Elementary School 80. His audience included about 150 children from Buffalo and Niagara Falls, all participants in Independent Health Foundation's "Good for the Neighborhood" program.

Also bringing holiday cheer was the Niagara Falls Housing Authority Choir. Both choirs sang prior to a free public screening of "Miracle on 34th Street," part of Shea's Free Family Film Series.

Nathan's mother, Brenda Myles, a longtime Lackawanna resident who now lives in Buffalo, also had her first look inside Buffalo's grand showplace. She expressed pride in her son.

"I love to hear him sing, and it [gives him] confidence," Myles said.

"These kids are so talented, and we're losing a lot of the young generation to the streets. It's positive for kids to have activities like this," she added.

Highgate Heights seventh-grader Gabrielle Jones was one of 10 members of the choir, who wore gold-colored gowns.

"I'm excited and nervous," Gabrielle said. "There are going to be a lot of people looking at you, but it's fun to make people happy while you sing."

The choir, directed by Gina Dormer, sang "Silver Bells" and the Scandinavian "Winter's Night" to a warm reception. So did the 26-member Niagara Falls Housing Authority Choir, under the direction of Diana Reeves, and featuring strong solos by Joseph Frank and Sierra Pole.

Owen Steed Jr. was excited to see his 7-year-old son, also named Owen, perform with the choir.

"I'm really proud of the whole choir, especially my son. I wouldn't have pushed him but he loves it. I let him do what he loves," Steed said.

Earlier, six busloads of children from Niagara Falls lined up to ask Santa Claus for holiday gifts.

Seven-year-old Asia Scott asked for "a new TV and a Bratz doll."

Elijah Griggs, 8, asked Santa for clothes and Legos. His 5-year-old brother, Josiah, put in a request for a race track and Matchbox cars.

Chimiqus Boans, 7, said she wanted "a big radio, Bratz [doll] and PlayStation 2."

"Santa Claus" said most requests from the children were for computer games, laptops and desktop computers, as well as board games, dolls and dollhouses.

The afternoon was capped off with the black-and-white movie classic on Shea's giant screen. It allowed young people to experience the former movie palace "as patrons did during the theater's early days," Shea's marketing and publicity manager Lisa Grisanti said.

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com

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