Each Monday evening, dozens of members of the Chester River Chorale gather at Minary’s Dream Alliance to fine tune their voices under the leadership of conductor and composer Alexis Ward and Chorale Assistant Director Stephanie LaMotte.
Two concerts in December will showcase the volunteer community chorus’ skills as the group completes its 22nd year of two seasonal presentations. The annual concert schedule includes A Chester River Holiday and a spring concert.
Last Spring’s concert at the Presbyterian Church was the first after the pandemic required a cessation of large group meetings. Even now, CRC remains cautious and requires vaccinations for all its 90-plus membership.
For first-year Direct Alexis Ward, preparation for the Spring concert was a hit-the-ground-running experience. She says that after the pandemic there was concern that the chorale membership would dwindle. Instead, the new Director was met with an outpouring of enthusiasm and support.
“I first heard about the Chester River Chorale before the Covid pandemic when they were looking for a new artistic director. Then the pandemic hit, and it was the longest job search in history for me because chorus choirs couldn’t sing,” Ward says.
Ward, a conductor and composer with an extensive resume for directing community, church, and professional choirs has worked extensively in sacred music and the non-profit sector and “has performed, studied, and worked with world-renowned composers and conductors including David Lang, Eric Ewazen, Gary Graden, Anton Armstrong, James Jordan, Weston Noble, Dennis Shrock, among others.”
Ward says the main chorale is open to all. It’s a non-auditioned. “You don’t have to have much experience with choirs to join. We have members who are former music teachers and those who don’t read music. There’s a wide range of skill levels but we just come together to sing really fun stuff.”
Two other select ensembles require auditions. The Chamber Singer ensemble of about 28 members who take on more challenging repertoires, and River Voices, an outreach group who perform at community events and festivals.
“It’ so fun. I’m spoiled rotten that I get to do this as my job,” Ward says.
The December programs will be held at 7:00 pm Friday, December 9, and 4:00 pm Saturday December 10 at the Presbyterian Church in Chestertown.
Ward says that they continue to look for new singers and those interested should go to the Chester River Chorale website.
This video is approximately six minutes in length. To find out more about Alexis Ward and Chester River Chorale, go here