The West Bay Chorale, an intergenerational chorus celebrating the perennial beauty of various musical genres, will be performing its 40th anniversary concert, entitled “Welcome Yule!” at St. Kevin Church in Warwick on Sunday, Dec. 15.
The Chorale – which has operated under several names during its tenure, including the Warwick Ecumenical Choir and the Warwick Civic Chorale – has entertained diverse audiences in various locations over the past 40 years, and continues to grow and evolve.
Jeni Luther, the group’s current president, envisions the 40th anniversary season to be a homecoming of sorts, with two of the previous conductors joining the concert in December, and the other two, she hopes, to return to contribute in the spring. She is also planning a reception following the holiday concert to present memorabilia from the past 40 years of the Chorale’s history.
The Chorale, which currently boasts nearly 50 members age 16 and up, prides itself on being a positive community that welcome singers from all over the state – some of which, as current artistic director Eric Van Dervort explained, also sing professionally or with other choruses.
Luther, who has been with the Chorale for 15 years and in leadership for the past five, explains: “I sung in high school and college. I was looking for a chorus and it suited me. I loved it.”
“The musical challenge suited me,” she added. “It’s not just so simple that I get bored. And to have it all come together so beautifully is just so rewarding. Every Monday night, I just leave all my troubles behind and I enjoy singing with everyone.”
She credits much of the convivial tone of the Chorale to Van Dervort.
“Eric is so skilled at bringing out the best in us and making us feel encouraged and feel good,” she said.
Van Dervort himself is quite excited about the concert, stating: “It’s going to be a real celebration of our history.”
This year, the concert hopes to impress with a program that includes folk, traditional, and sacred holiday music, as well as a special arrangement of Dona Nobis Pacem, created and led by past West Bay Chorale conductor Dale Munschy.
Van Dervort explained that the theme of peace is woven through the context of the holiday show, specifically among three of the pieces being performed, including Munschy’s “Dona Nobis Pacem.”
“Themes and images have always been important to me, and I try to find that in each concert,” he said.
The songs Van Dervort is most looking forward to directing at this concert are “Dona Nobis Pacem” and the beloved carol “Ding Dong Merrily on High.”
“The holidays are an increasingly hectic time and the concert is a good chance for people to sit, slow down, and open themselves to the live music surrounding them and hear the messages of the season in a special way,” said Luther, who hopes to fill St. Kevin with inspiring holiday sounds.
“The singers love sharing the music with the audience and we all leave refreshed and uplifted. I hope the reception will allow for some festive socializing with us as we celebrate our 40th anniversary, and hope to see people are interested in the displays and memorabilia of our 40 years of singing in the community. It is going to be a great celebration.”
“Welcome Yule!” will take place on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 3 p.m. at St. Kevin Church, located at 33 Sandy Lane in Warwick. Tickets cost $15 for general admission and $6 for those age 12 and under.
For more information, visit the West Bay Chorale Facebook page or westbaychorale.org.