BY MARY WICOFF
Years ago, the Vermilion Festival Chorus had more than 100 singers performing the masterworks of choral literature. David Schroeder, music director and conductor, would love to see that number again.
The chorus is gearing up for its fall concert, with the first rehearsal taking place from 7-8:30 p.m. Monday at Holy Family Church, 444 E. Main St. The rehearsals will be every Monday night, except Labor Day, until the concert on Nov. 17 at Holy Family.
“It’s a fun group of people,” Schroeder said. “We love mixing our voices and hearing harmonies and singing the classical repertoire.”
Interested singers are invited to show up at any rehearsal. However, there will be an open house to welcome new singers and get reintroduced to old ones at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at the church. The group will sing, and then enjoy refreshments.
This would be a good time for potential singers to see what the group is about before they join, Schroeder said. The group sings spiritual music, Renaissance, baroque and other masterpieces of choral literature — but nothing beyond people’s abilities, he said.
The upcoming rehearsals will be for the fall program, “Messiah and More.” The group will perform the Advent and Christmas sections of Handel’s “Messiah,” as well as other choral pieces to round out the program. Other selections include Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria”; “If This Child Were Born Today,” a contemporary “Messiah”; a couple of German Renaissance pieces; and selections on organ by Schroeder and Jonathan Myers.
The chorus started years ago with “Messiah” and 120-130 singers. Now, the average number is around 25-35, he said, adding it would be nice to have more voices for the fall program.
Schroeder said the chorus is open to all ages, from high school through senior citizens.
The rehearsal dates coincide with Danville Area Community College’s schedule, he said, and students can receive a credit hour in humanities. Two or three students are signed up now, he said, adding there’s plenty of room for more.
There is a one-time $20 fee for music rental.
He also said all voice ranges are welcomed. A person may sing in private to find out what his range is, and which section of the chorus he should be in.
“If you have music reading ability, that’s great,” Schroeder said, but it’s not a requirement to join.
After the November concert, the chorus will resume rehearsals in January for the May concert, which will be the first Sunday in May.
Jill Prasse accompanies the chorus on piano. “We would like to hire a string ensemble if we have the money,” Schroeder said.
Gene Schroeder, David’s father and chorus manager, also welcomes all singers to give the group a try. “If someone just loves to sing — they don’t have to be professional singers,” he said.
“If they love to sing, we’d love to have them join us,” he said, adding they don’t have to audition. The songs are from quality choral literature, but it’s not that hard for people to pick up on those, he said.
The chorus was resurrected in the late 1960s, he said, but — with just two concerts a year — people don’t realize it’s around.
He’s been chorus manager a good 15 years, he said.
The Vermilion Festival Chorus will have its first rehearsal at 7 p.m. Monday at Holy Family Church. An open house for new singers will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at the church.For more information about the chorus, call manager Gene Schroeder at 446-7543.