Community choir to form

The board of directors of The Bridge adult choir and Kidspan youth choir are inviting interested singers and musicians to join them for registration on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Bedford Presbyterian. The new choirs will be a blend of all musical styles. In front, from left, are Deena Thompson, Julie Davidson, youth choir director, and Jordene Gates; standing, Sonya Horner, Rod Horner, adult choir director, and Chris Bullington.

A group of professional musicians, music educators and trained singers and instrumentalists are launching a new community choir that will incoporate a wide variety of music styles, dance and drama into concerts they plan to hold starting next month.

The adult community choir will be called The Bridge while a youth choir for teens and preteens will be called Kidspan.

The public is invited to join the choir which will include two, two-hour rehearsals each month — the first and third Tuesdays of the month — at the Bedford Presbyterian Church, complete with child care.

Registration is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Bedford Presbyterian. The fee is $30 per adult and $10 per child.

The youth choir is targeted for children from the ages of 8 to 13.

The adult choir will be directed by Rod Horner, who plays organ, piano and sings and has been the accompanist for the Brooklyn Tabernacle and the Bill Gaither Homecoming Series and has performed with the Billy Graham Crusade team. He also performed as organist and pianist at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The youth choir will be directed by Julie Davidson, who has directed the children’s choir for 24 years at Bedford United Methodist and also sang with the local ensemble, Joyful Notes. She is also an accomplished pianist.

The requirement for singers is simple, Horner said. “The only thing we ask is they can match a pitch or a tone.”

As for children, they should be able to read — not music, but words. No one will be required to read music, Horner said.

The idea for a new community choir grew out of a regular night of music and worship that members of Bedford area churches have held for nearly the past two years on Sunday nights. On Dec. 16, when they gathered for Christmas song and celebration, about 350 people attended the event.

It prompted Horner and others to lay the foundation for a community choir that would allow all the area’s singers and instrumentalists a platform to enjoy their music.

The other board members are Chris Bullington, Jordene Gates, Beth Hull, Sonya Horner and Deena Thompson, all of whom have rich musical backgrounds.

The board wanted the name of the two choirs to symbolize their desire to offer a way for people to connect.

“I think it’s like a great opportunity for the community to unify through all generations” through music, Hull said.

Bullington, who qualified for state chorus all three years while a student at Bedford High School and also earned all-East Chorus honors, is also trained as a trumpet player.

He also talked about how his mother, Linda, a former music educator, inspired him in his music which he now passes on his love of music to his son.

Sonya Horner, who enjoys music and drama and has performed with the Bedford County Players, Altoona Community Theater and in Maryland, also has sang with Joyful Notes and directed the “Cherub Choir” at Bedford United Methodist.

Sonya Horner said they hope to attract younger singers and musicians to keep the choir going in perpetuity.

“When you talk about the future, some of us are reaching the age where we must pass the torch,” she said.

Gates said The Bridge is not only bridging generations but musical styles, too, such as gospel, southern gospel, contemporary, popular, Celtic, patriotic and more.

The plan is to have two to three concerts in each of two seasons — the winter/spring and then autumn.

The first concert is set for St. Patrick’s Day at 6 p.m. at Bedford Presbyterian. Concerts will be free of charge but an offering will be taken.

Rod Horner said The Bridge will offer some workshops. Lisa Gwin, a soloist with the New York Metropolitan Opera, will give a presentation on building and maintaining the voice, he said.

The Bridge’s concerts won’t simply be vocal performances, they also will include brass, a small string section, woodwinds and other orchestration.

The choir also will welcome the talents of other musicians: Stephanie Everett, high school choral and drama director and violinist with Altoona Symphony; Maureen Lightner, choral director at Claysburg-Kimmel High School; brass player Jim Rumbarger and vocalist Shawna Hudson, who also plays the trumpet.

The concerts also will include some drama, the board members said.

Hull, who has a masters degree in accompaniment and another degree in piano, has been director at the Presbyterian Church for about 15 years and music educator for many years.

“This is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be the highlight of my week,” Hull said.

Thompson, who has sang in the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah in each of its 31 years and has a background in drama and directed plays and musicals as educator at Everett Area High School, said the area has an abundance of musical talent that needs a platform.

“There’s music in its soul and we just want to share it,” Thompson said.

“There’s so many people in the fine arts that have been hurt, have put their talent on the shelf,” Rod Horner said. “We want to take those talents off the shelf.”

“Music is a vey certifying tool,” said Gates, who has directed multiple choruses at different churches and headed a community youth chorus in the late 1960s and early 1970s. “Music can heal, music can create.”

Anyone who cannot attend registration Saturday but wishes to join is asked to call Julie Davidson at 814-207-0901 or Rod Horner at 703-209-2770. Part of the purpose of registration is for directors to place the person’s voice in the right spot of the choir, Horner said, so it’s important that each singer register.

The first rehearsal is on Feb. 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and the second is Feb. 26 at the same time.

Contact Elizabeth Coyle at ecoyle@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 105.

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