Groton on the Inside: Groton Community Choir: a legacy of music and relationship

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The first rehearsal for the 68th season of the Groton Community Choir was held last Tuesday, Sept. 25, but its director, Ginny Casey, said it is not too late for singers to add their voices to the mix. The group will perform the Christmas musical “Unspeakable Joy,” as well as some other selections, the weekend of Dec. 8 and 9.


Rehearsals are held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the Groton Assembly of God church building, 701 S. Main St. Minimum age for choir members is 14, and Casey also mentioned there will be a children’s choir for ages five to 13.
Despite that there were 30 or so members warming up their chairs and vocal chords at that first rehearsal, many were mentioning names of those who were missing. If you are one of those people, and simply forgot or somehow didn’t get the word, or are someone who has not sung with them before but would like to, they would love to welcome you. Their tenor and bass sections are particularly in need of an increase in numbers.


This amazing choir has been going strong for 68 years so far. Casey became the director in 2008, taking the reins from Rebecca Brown, who had directed the prior eight years after taking over from the long-time director, Jane Jennings. Jennings was the original director and clearly had the most longevity.


Casey sang as a member of the choir for a few years under Jennings’ leadership and was the assistant director under Brown for four years before she took over the directorship. She also explained that the choir has a slate of officers to run it efficiently and effectively.


In full disclosure, I have personally been a part of the choir for 18 years, but I asked a few of the choir members what brought them to join the group and what keeps them coming. I think you’ll enjoy their responses.


Sue Bower was there for the very first time ever. She said she is a 1968 graduate from Groton High School who returned to attend her 50th reunion this past year and decided to move back, after having lived in California for years. Bower went on to explain that her sister, Barb, and brother-in-law, Barry Siebe, also moved from California to return to Groton. The Siebes and Bower have already purchased homes in the village and are very happy to be back.


Bower said she sang back in high school and loves to sing. I was thrilled to hear that she read about the choir in this column a few weeks ago and decided she wanted to be a part of it!


Linda Van Berkom joined the choir when she was a teen and has been singing for more than 50 years with a few breaks here and there. She said she had attended the old Methodist church on Church Street back then, where Jennings also directed music, so she wanted to sing as much as she could when Jennings formed this choir.


Van Berkom said she loves the instant feeling of camaraderie when rehearsals start every fall. “It’s like a family reunion – like the snowbirds are back, but it’s really the choir birds,” said Van Berkom. She also said how awestruck she has been when she walks in late sometimes because “the sound and the harmony is just incredible.”


Audrey Inman first attended a performance in 2015 right after her husband had passed away. She said she knew then that she wanted to be a part of it the next year, so made sure she was! Inman said everyone made her feel so welcome then, still do three years later, and it’s a lot of fun!


Linda Noble, who has been a member for 13 years, said she loves music and being in this choir is a great way to worship the Lord for her. She also mentioned what a delight it is for her to see so many different churches and age groups represented, yet everyone is a part of the whole.


Assistant Director, Kris Melford, could remember she started in that position in 2008, but couldn’t remember how long she sang as a member before. “A long time”, she said. Melford loves to be able to present Christmas music that is about the real meaning of the season and connecting with people. She said, “Being a part of this choir makes me really feel like I am a part of Groton,” and “no single church alone can do what we do by bringing all the churches together.”


I asked Casey how she really feels about being the director of such a legacy. “I love it, but it is a lot of work,” said Casey, “but what I love the most is that all of these people can come together from all different denominations with one common denominator: Jesus Christ. This choir has such purpose: to share the true meaning of Christmas with the community.”

Columbus Day Dinner
Did you know that Christopher Columbus was Italian? How fitting that the McLean Community Church, 50 Church St., is hosting a Columbus Day chicken parmesan dinner Monday, Oct. 8 from 4:30 p.m. until the food is gone.
This special holiday meal will feature chicken parmesan, ziti, salad, garlic toast, homemade cake, and beverages. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children age 6 through 12. Children age 5 and under may eat for free. Take-outs will be available.


Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or (607) 227-4922.

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