Who are the RSO Singers?
Around 2003, the RSO Community Chorus was disbanded due to concern over the audience’s continued interest in large-scale oratorio works. Guy asked Barb Armstrong and me what we thought about the idea of a smaller “broadway-style” chorus and who we knew in the community who could possibly direct it. While I had been the accompanist for the larger chorus for a number of years, I was aware that many people missed singing in a group and that somehow between members of that chorus + people I knew from RCT—maybe we could put one together. Silly me—I said that I had directed several musicals and was familiar working with small groups of singers from theater and my church job. I guess I stepped forward to suggest myself. (I very distinctly remember his response: “No, seriously, who could we get?”) He had a meeting with a couple of managing directors at RCT to consider a possible collaboration of personnel, and when he asked them who they recommended—they suggested me since I was already part of the RSO organization and knew most of the people who sang in the larger chorus. I believed we needed to continue some kind of choral group as an extension of the RSO—and Guy decided to trust me to put a group of singers together.
I reached out to strong, mainly non-professional musicians who I thought would be a good fit for the style we were trying. Some theatrical, several choral directors, all familiar with one another. It was almost instantly a family. We tried a minimally staged Broadway medley of songs the first year and a little more elaborately directed Gilbert & Sullivan operetta shortly thereafter. This group was willing to try differing styles of music to sing in concerts with the orchestra and would make themselves available for fundraisers as requested by members of the board. While most of the personnel is constant, as volunteers they need to usually commit to several months of rehearsals and performances. But they are busy and active members of the community. I always feel fortunate when I am able to recruit a balanced mix of singers, especially if they are excited about the music selected for them to perform. Whenever possible, we consult with one another to agree on the music we want to sing. We now have a fairly regular seasonal routine of concerts we are part of in the subscription series,and recent annual fundraising events contributing to being part of a fun evening of inclusion in this reputable and highly respected arts organization. I hope the community recognizes us as a local musical extension of the orchestra. We are all grateful to have the chance to work together and I appreciate the opportunity to continue to help feature great local talent!
See the RSO singers perform at the RSO’s next fundraising event “Twist and Shout” on April 29th. Make sure to arrive early to see them!