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Wicker Park Choral Singers

Building community through choral music

Wicker Park Choral Singers is a Chicago-based all-volunteer choir dedicated to building community through choral music. 

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PART FIVE: My Choir, Your Choir, Chicago's Choir: A History of Wicker Park Choral Singers, 2008 - 2012

Joan was easy to track down.  Dame leaves a paper trail you could make an informative snowdrift out of—schedules here, rolodex there, lists of venues and vendors and appointments.  We walked as we talked.  Rather, I ran after her as she breezed through a pre-wedding set up, shouting directions between lines of conversation. “So what was your role in the choir when it first started?”

“Oh, I did a bit of everything,” she stopped to fix a flower arrangement.  “I handed out music, took attendance, no those go over there,” she bustled off and I raced after her.

“Why did you join?” I asked when she finally turned back to me.

“For camaraderie, really.  And because making music is amazing and fulfilling.  Although, I have to say I was nervous about that first performance, because we only had four tenors.”

“That’s not very many for a choir?”

“Depends on the size of the choir, I suppose,” she said thoughtfully.  “Anyway, we just needed more men in the choir generally.  Mark sent out hundreds of (Facebook) telegrams just begging people to join.  Imagine getting a telegram from some person you don’t know calling himself “The Gentleman.”  She laughed and then furrowed her brow in reflection.  “You know that was probably a bit creepy.”

“Perhaps,” I agreed.

“Well it worked, though, we started to gather more members.  No, the lights this way!”  She rushed off again and I tagged along.

“So what can you say you learned while you were in this choir?” I said, catching my breath.

“Oh lots of things,” she straightened a place card on a table and checked her schedule.  “Well, more so, Mark learned things.”

“Like?” I prompted, hoping she wouldn’t run away again.

“For one, you can’t save the program design for the night before the concert.  And you can’t do a choir concert built on only slow music, either.  Oh, and I finally convinced Mark that themed programs are actually a very good idea.”

“Themed programs?”

“Concerts that are designed to fit a certain idea or season.”

“Like Christmas?” I asked.

“That’s a popular one,” Joan nodded.  “And let me tell you what, people will absolutely riot if you do a Christmas-time concert that has no Christmas music on it.”

“Why on earth would you do a Christmas-time concert with no Christmas music?”

“Exactly.  Our third concert, December 6,2008 was sort of Winter themed plus Americana because it was an election year,” she clarified, “and we threw in an encore of Silent Night.  And then we did a transportation themed concert the following spring on April 4, 2009.  We called it ‘Volare: to fly’…” she trailed off.

“Anything else?” I asked, scribbling her comments.  When I looked up, she was positively brimmed up with tears.

“Just that I miss it.”  She shook her head and sniffed.

I tucked my pen away and lowered my notebook.  “This choir stuff.  It’s pretty powerful, isn’t it.”

“Oh absolutely.”  She sniffed again and came back to herself.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check on a few last things.  Doves.  Everyone wants to release doves.  But what do you do with them in the meantime, I ask you…” she hurried away.

To Be Continued.....