Centre community hitting all the right notes with Summer Singers
As of late, the sound of Baroque classics, American folk songs and Shaker spirituals have wafted through Centre and its community, thanks to the Summer Singers.
A volunteer choir open to all in the Danville community, Summer Singers is in its 27th season this year. The choir provides an opportunity for everyone with a love of singing to come together.
Centre professor of music Dr. Barbara Hall is the choir’s conductor and has seen Summer Singers grow immensely over the years.
“It started with just over 22 singers and has reached as high as 83. This year it’s 57,” she says. “We’ve had members as young as 11 years old and some who are well into their 80s.”
Summer Singers will perform in concert tonight — Thursday, July 28 — at 7:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Danville, located on the edge of Centre’s campus. Their musical selections, as always, will cover a wide range of styles.
“We do music from every era from late Baroque — Vivaldi, Handel and Bach — up to the 21st century, and in every style from classical and opera to musical theater, jazz and pop. No rock yet!” Hall says.
Mariel Smith ’11 became involved with Summer Singers while doing research on campus during the summer of 2009.
“My aunt was singing in it and encouraged me to join. I’d never sung in a choir before, but I had musical experience, so I tried it out and got hooked!” she says. “The group is great because it includes all ranges of experience and talent — we’ve got first-time singers learning alongside professional performers and seasoned church choir members.”
Sarah Lowe, a free-lance art historian from New York City who spends her summers in Danville, decided to join Summer Singers after attending a concert a decade ago. She appreciates Hall’s skills as choir conductor.
“Barbara is a gifted choral master. Her choice of material is thoughtful and diverse — some of our pieces are by well-known Americans such as Stephan Foster, Irving Berlin and Aaron Copland, but she also introduces us to living composers and new arrangements of earlier works,” Lowe says.
Smith has also enjoyed the opportunity to sing such a broad selection of music.
“In 2009, some of my favorite songs included a ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ medley and a Stephen Foster medley,” she says. “This year, my favorite pieces have been the slave songs and spirituals.”
Besides singing meaningful music, participants in Summer Singers also appreciate how the choir brings people together.
“My favorite aspect of Summer Singers is the people I meet through it,” says Rachel Beckman ’12, a Danville native. “At the beginning of the summer, we’re a group of friendly strangers, but by the end, we’re friends. Working together for a common goal — not to mention seeing each other every week — helps us form a quick bond.”
“My favorite part about Summer Singers is how much a group of mixed talents, ages and experiences can learn in a few short weeks,” Smith says. “It’s amazing to see how we have truly become a group, listening to one another and working together to make some great music.”
Lowe agrees that Hall has a special ability to connect with her choir, and to help them connect with each other.
“Barbara has a deft touch, drawing out the best from her sopranos, altos, tenors and basses, with her natural energy and good nature. It is truly a privilege to sing under her with the Summer Singers,” Lowe says.
To learn more about the choir, go to www.danvillesings.com and click on Summer Singers.