South Windsor Community Chorus reconvenes for the season

By Lillian R. Handleman - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Thu., Sep. 12, 2013
South Windsor Community Chorus president Lee A. Mann, Sr., addresses the members as they reconvene for the new season. Photos by Lillian R. Handleman.
South Windsor Community Chorus president Lee A. Mann, Sr., addresses the members as they reconvene for the new season. Photos by Lillian R. Handleman.

The South Windsor Community Chorus, now in its 42nd year, gathered at the high school on Monday evening, Sept. 9, so that members could familiarize themselves with new choral music for their next performance. Following president Lee Mann’s protocol reminders, and music director Jo-Ann Thomas’ anecdotal introductions, the room was soon alive with the sound of musical recordings of all the new songs to be sung at January’s concert.

Thomas displayed a special SWCC website link on a large monitor screen for members to hear recorded versions of the winter program song selections that will eventually be performed by the SWCC members themselves. The performance promises to be a mixed bag of musical treats, everything from seasonal songs to secular hymns, with all the nuance and refinement that make a production entertaining.

Thomas’ song choices include “Nutcracker Jingles,” a unique version of “Jingle Bells,” infusing variations of the Nutcracker Suite. Other songs will have interesting key changes or combine major/minor modes. “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow” will have a recorded CD backup, while “Let the Music Dance” will be performed a capella. A Hartt School of Music performer will play a cello obbligato accompaniment to “Carol of the Magi.”

Thomas, also a curriculum coordinator for the South Windsor public school system, transfers her skills to hone in on the most suitable song selections for the group. “Diction is important, people,” Thomas told the SWCC members. “Many of these songs tell a story that has to be understood.” She played a recording of a Josh Groban song, with its haunting lyrics and melody, and then a Chanukah song, both of which will be included in the January concert, the latter having three melodies sung simultaneously. A New Year song will balance out the concert repertoire of seasonal songs.

Choral members, both new and old, come from neighboring towns and look to the group as an outlet to connect with others on a musical level in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie.

The cohesive chorus of longtime members — some of whom have been with the group for over 35 years — originated in 1971, emerging today as a 65-member community-based organization with a board of directors, musical director, president, vice president, business manager, secretary, treasurer, librarian, fundraising chairperson and pianist. In addition, many volunteers help coordinate the details of the performances that always include a meet and greet reception following each concert.

Mann, a Vernon resident, father of five and grandfather of 15, has been a choral member since 1999. With only eight male singers in the chorus, Mann hopes to add new male members to round out the vocal range of the group. 

Pianist David Wallace serves as piano accompanist for the chorus. He is also the musical director of a church in Manchester, and he and his wife perform separately as a cello/piano duo.

Business manager and South Windsor resident Janet Querido has been a member of the SWCC since 2000. Her strong background in business and real estate translates smoothly to managing the business details of the chorus.

As an adjunct to the regular schedule of two yearly concerts, the group has performed intermittently for organizations such as the Wadsworth Athenaeum’s Festival of Trees, and area nursing homes. The group meets on Monday nights from 7 to 9 at the South Windsor High School music room. New choral members, especially men with a song in their heart, are warmly welcomed, and no audition is required.

When asked what was most rewarding about directing the SWCC, Thomas replied, “This is the most dedicated, hard-working group of singers I know. They work diligently and I am very proud of them.”

For further information, go to http://www.swchorus.org or call president Lee Mann at 860-875-2589.


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