Is Glee getting you “gleeked” out for choral music? Sure, you can get more with the reality TV show The Sing-Off (featuring local group, Eleventh Hour as the FIRST high school group on the show), but maybe you’re looking for some local opportunities to experience some cool harmonies and hear songs re-vamped for voice. Luckily, in Dayton you have a variety of outlets specifically for choral fun, so here I highlight a handful of groups with upcoming holiday concerts.
Disclaimer: There’s no way I can highlight them all even as I attempt to stick to adult groups, so if you want to share info on the fantastic college/university and youth choruses in the region – or if I missed an adult group, share in the comments. But before we dive in, I will let you know that if you want to catch a short concert and take a break from the hustle of your work day, you can enjoy music from some local school groups when you visit downtown for Holiday in the City Noontime Entertainment.
When you hear Dayton Philharmonic, you may think orchestra – but I’m talking about the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus (DPOC). Having just recently become members of Chorus America, the DPOC is the official chorus of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. DPOC member Pam Miller Howard shares that their “goal is choral excellence and community involvement.” It is part of their mission to serve as part of the orchestra during the regular and summer seasons, but they also offer choral-only concerts, workshops, clinics, joint concerts and other educational outreach.
The DPOC has been around for a while. According to their Web page, it was back in 1935 that the DPOC was founded as an all-volunteer chorus to enhance the Orchestra’s programming. They’ve grown since then; their October concert boasted a chorus of over 140 members. And they’ve become a well-travelled and well-versed group, too; they’ve toured Europe and performed recently (2008 & 2010) in New York City. But even with all those perks, this chorus is driven by quality and the love of the music. Howard says, “Singing and hearing choral music is good for the soul.” Wanna know if the DPOC is the kind of music good for your soul before checking them out in person? You’re in luck – Dayton Public Radio airs concerts featuring the DPOC.
Check out the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Chorus (a select chorus of the DPOC) at the December concert: Messiah with the DPO which will be December 12 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton at 4:00pm. This year they will be performing the entire work which is a unique opportunity.
The Bach Society of Dayton is our next stop on this tour of choral music. “Dedicated to bringing the art of the great choral singing to Dayton,” they are 54-singers strong highlighting the history of top-quality choral music. The focus for the Bach Society is the classics – music that has stood the test of time yet continues to inspire. Some things are beautiful in any century, and they introduce Dayton to the great works first made famous by Vivaldi, Barber, and (of course) Johann Sebastian Bach.
Collaboration is key to the Bach Society of Dayton as they strive to develop an appreciation for choral music. Their Web site speaks about collaboration in a powerful way, “when we reach out to our community we share something each of us holds dear.” They are truly singing for the love of the music. They are most dedicated to their young person outreach; in recent years they’ve worked with the Muse Machine, many local high schools, the Gem City Ballet, Sinclair Community College, Wittenberg University, Carillon Brass, and players from the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sweet Sounds of the Holidays on Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. The Bach Society, along with the Kettering Children’s Choir Chorale under the direction of Bruce Swank and the Kettering Advent Ringers directed by Joan Ulloth Dorgan, present this seasonal favorite of Christmas and Hanukkah music.
So – you may think of the DPOC or the Bach Society when you think of choral music, but there’s more than traditional choral offerings in our fair city. The classics are well-represented, but for people who enjoy voices coming together for more contemporary works – there are numerous options for you as well.
Celebrating their 20th Anniversary, Musica!(yes, the exclamation point is included) is a smaller ensemble of singers who explore many different forms of music. Their Web site shares their home-grown history – Musica! was started by a group of 8 friends who sang for a friend’s party and they decided to keep going and share their voices with the public.
Now they have expanded to offer a subscription series, CDs, and specialized performances. Local singer, Megan Rehbring, is excited to be a part of Musica! She says, “We do an interesting mix of music, and not much ‘traditional’ choir music, so the concerts are really fun.” Rehbring is right that it’s not what is generally considered traditional; selections from this season include songs from musicals, spirituals, seasonal carols, and classic fare.
The Sounds of the Season concert is advertised to “ring in the holidays with several new Christmas arrangements and a festive medley of carols entitled A Baroque Christmas.” December 18 @ 8:00 PM at Fairhaven Church and December 19 @ 3 PM at Lutheran church of our Savior.
The Schuster Center Celebration Choir was established to sing at the grand opening of the Schuster Center – that’s it, story over. Except it’s not over – the singers had such a good time doing it, that they wanted to stay together and continue singing. Dayton Power and Light sponsors this choir that’s by the community / for the community. According to Dave Brush from the Victoria Theatre Association, the 40-50 members of this group are a demographic microcosm of the city, and they focus on giving back by singing at Urban Nights, the Grande Illumination, the Spring Concert (together with the Children’s Choir), and in partnership with community groups. They’ve also been selected to sing the National Anthem at the Dragon’s Games a few times. With a wide-spectrum of singers with different tastes and talents, they’ve been known to sing everything from Broadway to opera and classical to holiday. But what remains the same is the focus on providing an outlet for community members to sing, grow their skills, and share their talents with the greater community.
The Schuster Center Celebration Choir joins with a collection of choirs from local churches, the Sinclair Handbell Choir, and the Oakwood Accordion Band to bring full voice to the Dayton Philharmonic’s upcoming SuperPops performance Holiday at Homethis weekend at the Schuster Center.
For even more contemporary fare in this tour of the diverse choral options in town, we come to the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus. Their mission is two-fold in their attempt to encourage excellence in vocal arts as well as achieving a gay-affirming presence in the region. Board President, Allen Kimbrough says, “The DGMC promotes the idea of obtaining and sustaining our individual and human rights, celebrating diversity within our culture and community, and the freedom to express our commitment to the value of opening minds and eliminating prejudice by honoring our differences. Our music is a testament to these core values, which move us ever forward to succeed in reaching these goals.”
The crowds that they are getting at their shows and the partnerships they’re developing regionally and nationally are a testament to their drive and dedication to produce great works that support their mission. But while they are serious about their goals – I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how FUN this group is. In addition to great harmonies for exciting and unique musical selections, they include some simple choreography, fun costumes, and various props to keep the audience engaged and enjoying the overall experience of each show. These boys, inspired by music director Jason Schuler, know how to have a good time and that energy is contagious.
Kimbrough continues, “Our audiences can expect a broad repertoire of music in a variety of visible and accessible venues.” December shows include Celebrate! Songs of the Season on December 4th, at St. John’s United Church of Christ in the Cannery District on 3rd Street. Community outreach performances are scheduled at First Baptist Church on December 5th, Christ Episcopal Church in Springfield on December 10th, the monthly PFLAG December meeting on December 14th, and Barnes and Noble Bookstore on December 19th.
And finally, there’s the phenomenal group from Fairmont High School, Eleventh Hour. I know, I know – I’m not highlighting youth choirs in this article – but c’mon! Starting December 6, they’re on national television on The Sing-Off, so they have to get a little love. Check out their version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” to get into the spirit and then catch their free concert at Fairmont High School on December 8. Voices only as this small acapella group makes contemporary songs sound like they don’t need any instruments besides these seven voices.
So there’s a *small* sampling of some of the great choral options in the region and ways to get into the holiday spirit while supporting these local music groups. How are you fitting music into your winter schedule?