SHAMOKIN — Generations of voices reverberated off the walls of First United Methodist Church during Tuesday’s Choraliers’ practice.
The 48-member chorus treated each bar of music as if the empty pews were filled with an audience. Under the direction of Nan Weller, the group will bring its talents to the stage of the Shamokin Area Middle/High School auditorium at 2:30 p.m. today for a Christmas concert.
Age 20s to 90s
The Choraliers formed in 1976 to honor the nation’s bicentennial, and the group’s celebratory performance was intended to be a one-time event. Participants enjoyed the experience, however, and decided to hold an annual concert. Since then, the Choraliers have presented two concerts every year — one in the spring, the other right before Christmas.
The diverse group includes teachers, business owners and veterans and range in age from 20s to 90s. Their backgrounds are dissimilar, but their voices together form beautiful harmonies and melodies.
Weller said the number of members has fluctuated from the 30s to the high 60s over the years. The Choraliers have remained strong, she said, because it is one of the few adult choirs in the area.
“This is something they do as a hobby,” Weller said of members of the group. “There is no outlet for adults to sing, other than a church choir.”
The longevity of the group has turned it into a family affair, with many people singing beside relatives.
Chris Hastings travels from Bloomsburg to be in the same group for which her father, Jim Johnson, sang tenor for several years. Hastings’ cousins, Tiffany Kaseman and Darlis Tasker, and aunt, Pat Klemick, are current members.
“My dad sang my whole life, and I was always a singer. But, I am not a good (soloist). I like being part of the group,” said Hastings, an Elysburg native. “When I was younger, my dad always wanted me to join, but my kids were young.”
More time for Hastings became available when her children left for college. She said one of her biggest regrets is not singing a duet with her father before health issues led him to take a break from singing.
Hastings and Kaseman will perform “Christmas at Our House,” a song written by Johnson, as a special tribute.
Bob Kline and his son-in-law, Ben Anderson, often can be seen singing side-by-side. Kline’s parents, Harry and Sarah Kline, were members of the Choraliers when it formed 42 years ago.
“That’s what so neat about the group, is that there are so many stories about the people,” Weller said.
Teachers, and a tribute
The group boasts several current and retired music teachers, including Weller, Rob Ensinger, accompanist Bonny Klinger, Miranda Moyer, Vic Boris, Robert Frankford and Jen Hopple.
“I sing young kids’ songs in a very limited range all week,” said Hopple, who teaches at Liberty Valley Intermediate School in Danville. “Instead of teaching it, I am actually being challenged and enjoying being able to sing.”
Sunday’s concert is dedicated to the late Phyllis Bressler, long-time director of the Choraliers and choral teacher at Shamokin Area. It will feature solos, duets and group performances.