Former Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy Director and Students Selected to Perform for Pope



    The World Meeting of Families event on Saturday, September 26th, 2015, will be in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

    The Philadelphia Heritage Chorale and the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform with Andrea Bocelli, Aretha Franklin, and Juanes.

    The Papal Mass will be on September 27th in front of the Philadelphia Arts Museum and with the combined choirs there will be 525 voices from all different types of ethnic backgrounds performing for the Pope.

    Jocelyn: Suzette, please tell me about the event and how all of this unfolded. This is a very exciting opportunity!

    Suzette: I continue to be so thankful and grateful for the way life keeps on unfolding for me. Last night, (9/21) I had the opportunity to perform with my beloved Diego Correa and Damaris Thillet at the opening of the entire week of the World Meeting of Families at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. I am so grateful that they were the first ones to invite me to be apart of the audition committee for the Hispanic choir where we auditioned around 100 voices. It has been my pleasure to assist them in training the men’s section of the choir as well as assisting playing the piano from time to time. I was also invited to sing in the choir as a section leader.

    Damaris Diego and me

    Damaris Thillet, Suzzette Ortiz, and Diego Correa

    In the meantime, I received a phone call from Dr. Donald Dumpson, a very respected choir conductor in the city and a professor at Westminster College. He invited me to be part of his ensemble, The Philadelphia Heritage Choral Singers and Friends. He asked me to recommend Latino male singers and that’s how I was able to recommend two of my former students, tenth-grader Steven Diaz and eleventh-grader Jorge Acevedo.  He wanted to have Latino representation in his choir and invited me to perform too.  

    Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy ninth-grader Cierra Irizarry will be singing with Coro Hispano de Philadelphia.

    I feel blessed and fortunate that through my years in the music field, as well as the choral world, I have been able to meet so many people that always reach out to me. Before I left my beloved vocal students at the Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy (CAMVA), I promised them that any opportunity that came my way I would include them too!

    I feel extremely thankful to Dr. Donald Dumpson who also invited me to be apart of his choir, the Heritage Chorale, along with two of my former concert choir students. Thank you, Donald Dumpson for giving my students an experience of a lifetime! You are an incredible conductor with whom I feel an honor to know. I also want to thank directors Damaris Thillet and Diego Correa for their excellent work! 

    Jocelyn: How long were the auditions?

    Suzette: Auditions for the Hispanic choir took place at St. Peter’s Cathedral and they were done two Sundays in a row during the summer. For the Heritage Choir I was not only invited to sing but to recommend Latino singers. That’s how I was able to involve two of my former students.

    Jocelyn: How long have you rehearsed for this event?

    Suzette: With the Hispanic Choir we rehearsed two months. With the Heritage Chorale under the direction of Dr. Donald Dumpson and also the choir that will sing for Bocelli, one month.

    Jocelyn: What are the selections for this performance?

    Suzette: For the presentation on Saturday with Andrea Bocelli, Aretha Franklin, and Juanes some of the selections: The Lord’s Prayer / Bocellil Nessun Dorma / Aretha Franklin Odio Por Amor/ Juanes.

    The Hispanic Choir will sing 30 selections in Latin, Vietnamese, Spanish, and English.

    Jocelyn: Suzette, you have inspired so many students throughout the years in the Camden Public School system and created one of the most outstanding choirs in the South Jersey Region at Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy. Now that you have retired due to the district scaling back on schools throughout the Camden City District, how will you continue doing what you love?

    Suzette: I have already moved forward conducting other choirs and performing as a pianist. I will be enrolling the Temple Alumni Choir so that I can continue to grow and learn from other directors. Camden will forever be in my heart.

    I am currently conducting the Jubilee Choir at St. John’s Baptist Church and continue to stay current in as many choral and music opportunities that come to me so that I can also share them with those I love as well as my community.

    Aside from performing with choirs and my Latin Jazz group, I am finishing my book “Teaching! My Life Changing Song.” This book is a book of memoirs throughout my 32 years of teaching and all my travels around the world with my students. The book talks about how teaching changed my life as a performer.

    Jocelyn: Suzette, you have inspired me to follow my dream and continue opening the hearts and minds of children with the arts. Your alumni is forever grateful for your contributions. We look forward to seeing your students like Epoch Failure‘s Billy Joe, Rico Davis, and several other artists taking the stage from Creative Arts. How do you feel about your students’ journey in the performing arts?

    Suzette: I am so inspired and proud of them!!! Most importantly that I earned their respect. Super, you are the best!

    Ms. Ortiz has been an important part of Creative Art’s history.

    Students have traveled all over the world and brought back trophies proving their voices are remarkable anywhere.

    At the City of Camden, Creative Arts Morgan Village High School there still are shining stars who want to shine the brightest.

    You can help this award winning choir continue to follow their dreams.

    Donations for the CAMVA Choir Boosters are sent to:

    Attention :

    Faith Tabernacle Church

     CAMVA Choir Boosters

    553 Spruce St.

    Camden, NJ 08104



    • Jocelyn Toledo is a contributor for New Theory Magazine. She is a publicist, violinist and opera singer. She worked in politics for many years and has made a shift into the entertainment field. She is developing her own media personality and working hard to build her brand. Follow her on Instagram: @JoceGracefully or Twitter, or see her website for more information.

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