Delaware choral groups join for spring concert

15dsn Delaware Youth Chorale 001 - ENT

DOVER –– The Delaware Choral Society will bring its first of two featured shows of 2016 to Wyoming United Methodist Church Sunday afternoon, featuring both the adult choral society and the Delaware Youth Chorale.

Heather Swartzentruber, director of the Youth Chorale, instructs about 25 kids between third and eighth grade.

“Being in the chorale isn’t just about singing for the kids. It’s also about learning,” she said.

“They learn to or improve on reading music. They’re learning to sing in different languages and learning to love the works of the masters.”

Delaware Youth Chorale artistic director Heather Swartzentruber of Dover gets her young singers in their spots for rehearsal.

Delaware Youth Chorale artistic director Heather Swartzentruber of Dover gets her young singers in their spots for rehearsal.

Ms. Swartzentruber has directed the Youth Chorale since its inception 14 years ago and has been able to work with students on different languages ranging from Germanic to African. She’s also taught the group new genres that aren’t common to learn in a school chorus.

“It’s a lot of fun to teach the kids because their brains are like sponges and they are really interested in everything we do,” she said.

The Youth Chorale is set to perform three pieces on its own on Sunday and another two with the Choral Society in seasonal selections.

“It’s great for the Choral Society to work with the kids,” said Dr. James Wilson, director of the Choral Society.

“They’re enthusiastic about it and all have an interest in it and it’s great to see young people getting into singing.”

Dr. Wilson directs between 60 and 80 adult members –– singers aren’t obligated to consistently perform with the group so there’s usually a turnover every six months or so.

Dr. Wilson and Ms. Swartzentruber hope that singers from the Youth Chorale will choose to become members of the Choral Society once they reach ninth grade.

Dr. James Wilson

Dr. James Wilson

The adult group will feature Johannes Brahms’ “Requiem” on Sunday.

“There are about 30 different staple choral works and we try to do a different one for each concert (spring and winter) and I don’t think Brahms has been done in about 15 years,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson started playing piano at age 6 and singing at 10.

He moved to Delaware in 2010 for a job at Wesley College, where is an associate professor of music and choir director, and knew after seeing two performances of the Choral Society that he wanted to get involved.

“I saw them a couple times and was impressed,” he said.

“About four and a half years ago, the position for director opened up and I decided to give it a shot.”

And he’s been directing the group ever since.

Members of both groups aren’t required to audition and join on their own, which Dr. Wilson said makes it a good environment for all involved.

“It makes a big difference when people are here just because they want to be, because they love it,” he said.

eather Swartzentruber of Dover leads her group of young singers during Tuesday’s rehearsal.

eather Swartzentruber of Dover leads her group of young singers during Tuesday’s rehearsal.

“It’s not as much fun to work with people who are singing or performing because they’re required to.”

And as a professor at Wesley, Dr. Wilson has had his share of experiences with students taking his classes for a variety of reasons other than enjoyment.

Jessica Beebe is the featured soprano while Jonathan Lasch is the distinguished baritone. Sherry Roscoe is accompanist for both groups.

Sunday’s show is at 4 p.m. at Wyoming United Methodist Church, 216 Wyoming Mill Road in Dover.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students with ID, and $12 for children without student ID. Children under 12 are admitted free.

For more information about the Delaware Choral Society and Delaware Youth Chorale, visit www.delawarechoralsociety.org or call 302-222-6039.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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