They were warming up with a scale exercise. In a sense, they were also offering a mission statement.
“I love to siiiiiing ... I love to siiiiiing ...”
The voices of the assembled members of the Goshen Community Chorale filled Goshen College’s Sauder Concert Hall Tuesday. The singers were getting ready to rehearse for a milestone performance.
The Chorale’s 2012-2013 concert season marks the group’s 30th anniversary. Joined by the Maple City Chamber Orchestra, the group will perform “A German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Sauder Concert Hall. The show, which concludes the Chorale’s season, is free and open to the public.
The program will feature bass vocalist Doyle Preheim and soprano vocalist Amy Cofield Williamson. A former chairman of the Goshen College Music Department, Preheim founded the Chorale, which was originally known as the Goshen Oratorio Chorus.
Circa 2013, the Goshen Community Chorale is directed by Lee Dengler. He could be found seated — an audience of one — in the middle of Row M in Sauder Concert Hall Tuesday night, taking notes on the rehearsal.
“It’s a great group of people, very dedicated to this activity that we do together,” he’d said earlier in the day of the vocalists who make up the Chorale. “People that sing together form a really strong bond, I think. Talk to anybody who is in this kind of organization, I think they would testify to that.”
Dengler said the group performs two concerts a year. Through an audition, it’s open to anyone with a desire to sing. He views the Chorale as providing an opportunity for those who want to have a choral experience to participate in a community choir organization. Dengler also sees a benefit for the audience.
“The concerts that we do are free for the public and provide a way for the community to experience some of this great choral repertoire that is available,” he said.
One of the people performing that repertoire is Marlo Kauffman. Part of the original choir 30 years ago, he sang with the group for a year or so and then dropped out. He rejoined three years ago.
Kauffman said the Chorale gives people an opportunity to perform with a group that performs somewhat challenging music, such as Brahms’ “Requiem.”
“It’s a major work,” he said. From a community perspective, Kauffman said the Chorale offers “one more chance for people to listen to the music they enjoy listening to.”
Larry Yoder of Goshen was also a charter member of the singing group, and has been with it from the beginning.
“Ever since college, I’ve always sung in community chorales or choruses or groups of some type, so it’s been a longstanding thing,” he said. Yoder lived in California for 13 years and participated in a chorale out there, then moved back here and started with Goshen group.
Yoder said most of the Chorale’s concert material is quite challenging.
“We rehearse for about two and a half months before every performance, every Tuesday evening,” he said. Yoder indicated that the experience is a fulfilling one.
“It’s different from the other things I do throughout the week,” he said. “And it’s refreshing to participate. I’ve often heard people say you feel very tired going to the rehearsal — by the time it’s over, you’re energized a bit.”
Preheim is professor emeritus of music at Goshen College. He taught music at the college for 30 years and was chairman of the music department for 15 years.
Preheim has performed as a bass soloist in oratorio roles including Mozart’s “Requiem,” Handel’s “Messiah” and Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.” With his wife, pianist Mary Jo Preheim, he has performed recitals in Midwestern and Canadian venues.
Cofield Williamson is a South Bend native. She’s had operatic roles with groups including the Opera Roanoke, Annapolis Chamber Orchestra and Chorale, Houston Grand Opera, Wildwood Opera, American Opera Theater in Taiwan and New York, and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. She has performed recitals across the United States as well as in Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia.
If you want to go
The Goshen Community Chorale and the Maple City Chamber Orchestra will present “A German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Goshen College’s Sauder Concert Hall. Admission is free and the public is invited.
For more information about the groups, visit the websites www.goshencommunitychorale.org or mcco-online.org.