This year, the Delaware Community Chorus is celebrating 50 years of performing classical music in the county.
Leaders and members of the singing group credit the group’s longevity to a variety of music, a strong community, and the benefits of singing. They add the choir has never been better than it is at 50.
“The choir is probably at its best now, in terms of the size of it and the quality of pieces we are doing,” said John Kohan, a Delaware resident in the choir. “I’ve been in this group for eight years, and I never thought I’d been singing Bach. That’s the key thing, the choir is getting younger and larger, and the type of music we are presenting is more complicated and varied.”
Kohan added the choir is one of the only places locals can go for music like this, both as a listener and a performer.
“It’s a resource for the community,” he said. “There’s so little good live music. I used to sing in a church choir when I was 10 years old. It was great for me when I passed 60 to be singing again. We’re all excited for another 50 years!”
Delaware Community Chorus President Jody Passafume said she’s pleased the choir has made it to its 50th season.
“It has had several iterations over time, and I think it’s becoming more known in the community,” said Passafume, a Hilliard resident. “That’s exciting. To think that this organization, in its many interactions, has consistently provided the community with a good, quality opportunity and has done nothing but progress over the course of 50 years until the point we are right now, which is, in pretty good shape.”
Kay Baglione has been in the choir for 14 years. She joined the group after arriving in Delaware.
“I moved to Delaware and I wanted to find a place to fit into the community. I saw an advertisement that they were getting ready to rehearse for the season and I thought it would be fun to sing again,” Baglione said. “And here I am. I got sucked in! It’s fun!”
Baglione added she’s enjoyed making friends in the group.
“My favorite thing has been the friendships,” she said. “Everyone in the chorus are nice and wonderful people.”
Baglione said the chorus as made it 50 years because of the music.
“People just love to sing,” she said. “(The key has been) having a good director that presented us with challenging and fun music that made people want to listen to us. I just like to sing.”
One of the longest performing members in the group is Keith Johnson, who has been performing with the chorus for more than four decades.
“I first sang with the chorus in 1977,” he said. “It keeps changing. Every director brings their own specialty, and therefore, the chorus will change with that specialty. We are 60 (members) now, but we have been as few as 12. The people here like music, and we like to sing.”
Johnson, a Worthington resident, said that singing has benefits beyond music and forming friendships.
“I have always looked at singing and the chorus as my therapy,” he said. “I can come in and be tired, be grumpy and have a headache, and an hour-and-a-half later, I’ll feel great. This is cheap therapy. That’s what keeps us coming. This has been one steadying thing. I have changed jobs, location. Children have been born, grown up and left, but the chorus has always been here.”
Johnson said he believes the group has a bright future.
“Right now, I think we have a high quality chorus,” he said. “I’m glad to say we are getting more younger people. That brings a new vitality in, and the audience is receptive to that. It’s vibrant and just brings you up.”
Artistic Director Josh Broadbeck said the chorus has endured throughout every incarnation of the group.
“I think from the early days it brought a sense of community to people that like to sing together,” he said. “There’s been all different types.”
Broadbeck added one of his favorite things about directing the group is the skill level of the members.
“We’ve been working on bringing up the level of musicianship,” Broadbeck said. “We’ve started attracting people who have been trained as musicians, which helps. Having almost 70 singers, you can do just about anything.”
The group’s next performance in its 50th season will be its “Spring is in the Air” concert, which will be held at 3 p.m. May 3 at the Powell United Methodist Church, 825 E. Olentangy St., Powell.
For more information about the group and its performances, visit www.delawarechorus.com.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.