Delaware Choral Society to salute Broadway

Delaware Choral Society rehearses for its upcoming concert. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Breaking away from its classically themed performances, the Delaware Choral Society is bringing “Curtain Up! A Concert of Show Tunes” to the stage at Dover High School April 21.

“After doing a big classic piece like ‘Messiah’ during the winter, show tunes are a nice way to balance out the season,” said Choral Society Director Dr. James Wilson.

“Many of the pieces in this performance are classical theater, so many of the pieces the singers and the audience will be familiar with.”

Singers coming in already knowing the music made early rehearsals both easier and more difficult.

“A lot of times, people will have heard the song and it’s in their head a certain way, but when they see the sheet music, they will see it’s actually different than what they’ve known it to be,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. James Wilson, director for the Delaware Choral Society. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

“But in a lot of instances, these are songs that the singers have heard and love so it makes it a really enjoyable experience.”

Songs include “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from “Gypsy,” selections from “Les Miserables” music from Gilbert and Sullivan.

“Dr. Wilson always does a great job choosing music and I like this show because having three boys, I wasn’t able to follow musicals closely but these are classics so it’s a lot of music I was already familiar with and what I hadn’t seen on stage, I’d seen in movies,” said Elizabeth O’Shea of Camden, who has an alto solo on “On My Own” from “Les Miserables.”

She had first heard the song while watching the movie version of the venerable Broadway show.

The Delaware Choral Society doesn’t require auditions to join but larger solo parts do require auditions.

“I was so nervous because I hadn’t auditioned for anything in so long,” Ms. O’Shea said of her audition.

Ms. O’Shea has been a member of the Choral Society for six years and the other singers and her love of singing keeps her coming back.

“I love that in our little town, we have a group of amazing singers like this and that I am able to participate because singing brings me joy,” she said.

“Curtains Up” features singers from both the Delaware Youth Chorale (grades 3-8) and singers from the Vocal Arts Academy of Dover High School, which is under the direction of Brad Whitenight.

“The kids perform throughout the year at many different events and the performances with the Choral Society are something they all really enjoy,” said Heather Swarzentruber, director of the Youth Chorale.

By doing joint performances with the Youth Chorale, Choral Society members have watched young singers grow up over the years.

Delaware Choral Society and youth singers rehearse at Dover High School Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

“We only see them a few times a year and it’s great to see kids who I first saw as part of the Youth Chorale go on to high school or even join the Choral Society,” Ms. O’Shea said.

“There are some really amazing singers coming up and I want to encourage them to keep singing if it brings them joy because finding a passion or hobby like this is worth holding on to.”

The young singers have to be on top of their game every time they head in to perform with the Choral Society and hold their own on stage.

“Most of the kids have sung with me so they come in prepared, knowing all their music and are familiar with how things run,

Soloist Yadiana Ramos, 19, sings during rehearsal with the Delaware Choral Society. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

especially if they’ve done performances with us in the past,” Dr. Wilson said.

Although he is used to teaching students at Wesley College by day, the elementary and middle schoolers are good enough to meet his high expectations and others.

The group has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in just two months.

“They found a video of our group singing and we were contacted last summer asking if we’d be interested and the consensus was ‘yes’ so we submitted additional recordings and will be headed to New York for the performance in June,” Ms. Swarzentruber said.

The union of the voices, young and mature, will make “Curtains Up” a great show, Dr. Wilson said.

“It’s always great to see members from across the community put something like this together and the variety of music that will be performed by voices of all generations is something the audience will really enjoy,” he said.

The First State Brass will also perform and Sherry Roscoe will serve as accompanist on piano.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $10- $20 and available for purchase at delawarechoralsociety.org/buy-tickets or call 302-697-1574.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

Sherry Roscoe plays piano for rehearsal of the Delaware Youth Choral Society with Heather Swartzentruber directing. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

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