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Celebrate Spring with the Warrenton Chorale

Thursday, Apr. 24 | By Constance Lyons
The Warrenton Chorale at a recent rehearsal.
Photo by Adam Goings
The Warrenton Chorale, an institution in Fauquier County and probably its oldest musical ensemble, will present its spring concert, “Celebrate Spring,” this .Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m. at Warrenton United Methodist Church.

John Maerhofer
“The theme for our spring concerts is ‘Choral Artistry’; it reflects the wonderful choral sound that is what the Chorale is all about.

“The concert program is a welcome challenge to all the singers and will be a delight to our audiences. The concerts will feature six- and eight-part choral works by Craig Courtney and Felix Mendelssohn, sung in Latin and German, that showcase the wonderful ensemble sound of the Chorale.”

Other works will feature the Chorale accompanists on piano and organ, along with flute in "Morning Has Broken" by Philip Stopford and the Peter Wilhousky arrangement of "Battle Hymn" with trumpets and percussion. Four familiar spirituals with soloists from the Chorale will include “This Little Light of Mine”, “Steal Away”, “My Soul’s Been Anchored” and “Elijah Rock”.

“As always, the Chorale’s well-known handbell ensemble will ring several major arrangements, demonstrating exceptional skill in the art of English Handbell ringing,” Maerhofer said.

Associate director Gretchen Davis, who has worked with the Chorale for 12 years as a singer and as both associate and acting director, said, “It is remarkable that a small gathering of singers six decades ago grew into the current Warrenton Chorale. Every organization has a natural ebb and flow over the years and many do not survive. There is something very special about this group that caused it, not only to survive, but to thrive. We have some members who have sung for many decades and quite a few who are singing with us for the first time. It is a wonderful mix of people who are drawn together by their love of choral music.
“Warrenton United Methodist Church is a lovely, comfortable place for the audience and easily accessible.  The acoustics are especially nice for choral singing and it allows us to do works with both piano and organ.  We are grateful to the church for accommodating us. We welcome our longtime loyal listeners and brand new audience members to join us for an afternoon of bell ringing and singing.”

 Jean Hines, the Chorale’s publicity director,  said that this year’s program is an unusually challenging one.

“When John took us over, he was determined to move us ahead into less familiar territory,” Hines said. “From the start he has had great faith and confidence in the group’s ability to learn difficult music. So there will be some old favorites at each concert, and some brand new to the singers and to the audiences.  

“One of the results of this is that we’re attracting new singers, a lot of them young people, who like the adventurous spirit of the director.”

The Chorale now has 71 singers, up from most of the spring concerts.

“The Christmas concert was our 60th anniversary celebration, was adventurous, and people came to us and returned to sing at the spring concert,” Hines saikd “In the past that hasn’t happened quite so much. So we’ve been very fortunate in having an influx of younger people, some of them as young as high school age.

“We’re excited about our guest soloist, Louis Gramby Jr. who will sing 'Steal Away.' But the music isn’t just challenging; it’s uplifting, and by the end of the concert people will leave filled with a wonderful spirit of pleasure and excitement. We’re anticipating a full house every day.”

Tickets are available at the door and at various locations in Warrenton: g.willikers Toys and Books, Great Harvest Bread and New Balitmore Animal Hospital A donation of $12 at the door or $10 in advance is suggested.

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