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August 1998 marks the beginning for the Elk County Concert Choir.
Back when it began, it was known as the Ridgway Concert Choir. It wasnâ€™t until members outside of Ridgway wanted to join when the name was changed. The choir was formed by Barbara Warmbier Whitehouse. Whitehouse molded the choir to dedicate a new organ to the First Presbyterian Church in Ridgway.
World renowned musician Jon Freeburg, who was a Ridgway native, had helped inspire the choir.
â€śJon was going to be the organ player and he suggested forming a choir from the community to dedicate it,â€ť said Ron Capuano, an original member of the choir. â€śAfter the dedication we really enjoyed singing so we became the Ridgway Concert Choir.â€ť
Thirteen years later, many original members still remain actively involved. In the sopranos: Gloria Almquist-Shull, Melinda Gasbarre, JoAnn Castle, Lois DeVilling, Georganne Freeburg, Edith Gardner, Darien Kontes, Noma Olay, Bev Yates and Gloria Udarbe; in the altos, Barb Gresh and Mary Lou Riegel; the tenors are Ron Capuano and Jack Cleaver; bass is Warren Riegel.
Fellowship and friendship is a pertinent reason why members remain involved.
â€śI continue to be a part of the choir because I enjoy it,â€ť Gresh said. â€śI am so proud of what we have accomplished. It is an outstanding group of people and I feel good singing with them.â€ť
Some members have a musical background to offer but others simply have a passion for music.
â€śIt is probably one of the best releases of all time,â€ť Kontes said. â€śWe have a good time; there is a lot of camaraderie. I sang in choirs in high school but I have no professional background. No one is professional singers, but we all learn from each other and have a good time.â€ť
Being involved musically is attractive to members with a musical foundation.
â€śIâ€™ve personally been in music all my life. I used to play the clarinet and saxophone. Iâ€™ve been in a mixed choir, menâ€™s glee club and sang in a barbershop quartet in college,â€ť Capuano said. â€śI come back because of my love of music, the people, camaraderie and fellowship.â€ť
Almquist-Shull has only been Principal Director for a few years but has been involved since the choirâ€™s beginning. â€śThe people just enjoyed singing with each other so we remained a choir,â€ť Almquist-Shull said. â€śIt is a wonderful thing to have this for the community.â€ť
The Elk County Concert Choir will be performing the "Tapestry of Light: a Celtic Christmas Celebration." The shows are scheduled for tonight at 7:30 p.m. at St. Leoâ€™s Catholic Church in Ridgway and Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in St. Marys. Admission is free, and refreshments will be provided.
Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.