“I am aware of a number of adults who are experienced singers and who enjoy singing in a choir,” said Bradley Vogel, associate professor of choral music at Tabor College. “There are very few opportunities for them to sing, and (Tabor College) would like to offer this as that opportunity.”
For the group’s first rehearsal Sept. 10, 20 people attended, ranging from ages 16 to 70, and more have expressed interest, said Vogel.
The Community Chorale was implemented for two reasons, Vogel said. First, a larger number of students want to sing than can participate in the Tabor College Concert Choir.
“(The Community Chorale) provides another opportunity for students to sing, or for students who simply want to sing in that type of deal and not with the rigors the Concert Choir has,” Vogel said.
The second reason is to meet a perceived need in the community for people who want to sing.
“The avenue of church choirs has been disappearing,” he said. “And so this offers that opportunity for people who want to sing.”
The Community Chorale will perform two concerts during the year: a Christmas concert Dec. 10 at the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church, and a joint spring concert with the Tabor College Concert Choir.
“They will be good community events,” Vogel said.
“I think it’s important for a community to have arts, and to give people a continued opportunity to participate in arts, in this case performing art.”
“I think the college should be a center of cultural activity for our community,” he said. “You look at Lawrence and Manhattan with KU and K-State, and they’re just such a central focus of the cultural life of the community
“And even on a smaller scale, I really think (Tabor) should impact the community in that way.”
Vogel said he has high expectations for the new group, especially after the first rehearsal.
“I’m optimistic about what we’ll have,” he said. “It is a very musical group with a quite full sound. They are good musicians—good readers and musically responsive. I think they’ll have few limitations in repertoire.
“Our only limitation at this point is numbers,” he added. “The higher the numbers, the greater the range of repertoire possible.”
Registration is still open for interested individuals. The cost is $25 to cover materials. Rehearsals are every Monday evening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Wohlgemuth Music Education Center rehearsal hall on campus.
“People are going to miss some things, and there will be conflicts,” Vogel said. “The main thing is people realizing they do have the time. It’s important enough and enjoyable enough that they need to make the time for it.”
Hillsboro resident Steve Vincent, a retired choral director of 43 years, is making the time to attend, and is confident Vogel’s leadership will make the group successful.
“Brad is such an outstanding conductor, I particularly wanted to be under his direction,” he said.
Vincent said he also looks forward to being involved in a group where he can sing instead of direct.
“I wanted to do something where I didn’t have to be the conductor, where I could just sing,” he said. “We’ll be doing really, really fine music that you can’t do with just every church choir because they’re more limited, so that’s going to be good.”
Because Vincent moved to Hillsboro from Southern California two months ago, he is also excited for the chance to meet new people who share his choral interests.
“I’ll get to know people,” he said. “And I’m glad people are coming from outside of Hillsboro, too.”
People came to the first rehearsal from Hillsboro, Durham, Lost Springs, Florence and Marion, Vogel said.
Kellie Wyatt lives in Lost Springs, but decided it was worth the drive. Her son Quentin, 16, also attended the rehearsal.
“Last year I was singing in Salina in a chorale there and I saw the (Community Chorale) ad in the paper and thought, ‘This would probably be a good opportunity for both Quentin and I to sing and not have to drive so far,’” she said.
Wyatt and Quentin share a love for music. Wyatt said she has been singing “since she could talk.”
“I started singing in church when I was probably 4 or 5,” she said. “My mom was the organist and music director for the church choir.”
Quentin is involved in the Centre High School choir and band and he also plays the guitar.
Wyatt said she is happy for the opportunity to sing in a choral group, and she has goals for both herself and her son.
“The biggest thing I want to gain is probably to just get out and start singing again,” she said. “It’s been so long.
“And also, for Quentin to be able to sing in a different choir and be able to learn at yet another level— different ways to sing and to blend as far as a choir is concerned— and learn to blend with different voices instead of the ones just in his choir here at Centre.”
She is confident the Community Chorale is off to a good start.
“It’s a good thing that Dr. Vogel is taking his time to do this for us and to become a community choir,” she said.
“I just hope more people will come out and join us because we’ve already got a good sound and we need some more (people).”