Community chorus celebrates 30 years of singing as a ‘family’

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By Jason Starr
The Colchester Sun

Carol Reichard leads the Colchester Community Chorus in a rehearsal last week ahead of the chorus’ May 1 concert to celebrate its 30th anniversary. JASON STARR

Carol Reichard leads the Colchester Community Chorus in a rehearsal last week ahead of the chorus’ May 1 concert to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
JASON STARR

The Colchester Community Chorus will enter its fourth decade of performing with a special anniversary edition spring concert next week.

Launched in 1985, the community chorus is led by its founding director, Carol Reichard, and has eight original members. Through the years the group has attracted amateur singers from Colchester and surrounding towns, and features an age range from high school seniors to senior citizens.

“Singing is something you can do your whole life,” Reichard said last week before the group’s weekly rehearsal at Malletts Bay School. “We have people in their 90s and we have young people. It’s really become a family.”

The May 1 concert will be themed around the group’s history of performing holiday and springtime concerts locally, on trips around the state and during a one-time trip to London in 1998. It will include narrated interludes, displays of original artwork and a review of Beatles tunes (in a nod to the London trip). Also, the group’s original pianist, Camille Brubaker, is making a return trip from her new home in Ohio to accompany the group.

Maggie MacLeay, one of the chorus’ original members, says the group’s camaraderie keeps her coming back for weekly practices and annual performances.

“It’s a really nice social thing,” she said. “It’s a wonderful group to be with and to sing with, and Carol is a great director.”

Reichard had been accompanying the Colchester High School chorus when she pursued the idea of starting a community chorus. She said the idea was sparked by students who had graduated but had expressed a desire to continue to sing and perform. The group was originally formed as a program of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department; its first concert was at Bayside Park in the spring of 1985. It later became a non-profit independent of the town.

The chorus has roughly 50 members. It is the go-to group to provide a musical presence at community events. It performs at the annual village tree lighting, special events, such as the town’s 250th celebration, and at its annual shows in December and May. Members practice weekly in the Malletts Bay School music room.

“You work all day and you think you’re done in, but you come in and sing and you are rejuvenated,” Reichard said. “Music takes the dust off of life.”

The May 1 concert is titled “Here, There, and Everywhere.” It begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Colchester High School auditorium.