My name is Andrea Johnston, and I love to sing. I joined my school’s choir in the fifth grade and never looked back. When I came to Knox, however, I was nervous to audition for the Knox Choir, so I joined the Galesburg Community Chorus instead. It has become one of my favorite activities since coming to Knox.
Although rehearsals take place in CFA, the Community Chorus is not a Knox group. As its name suggests, the Chorus is a community organization, funded through ticket sales, member dues and donations. We perform two concerts a year. One concert is in late fall and the other in the spring.
You might think the fact that there is no audition process and all people interested may join would lower the quality of our performances, but that is not the case. Our director, Tim Pahel, works very hard to help us learn the music. Every chorus member is expected to do the same. We are required to come to each rehearsal “pencil in hand,” and once we have practiced a section, Tim often tells us to go home and practice it even more.
The material we perform is not easy. In my four years in the chorus, we have done works by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Brahms. We usually sing the pieces in their original language, as well. In my time, we have sung in Latin, German, Italian, French, Hebrew and occasionally English.
Our most recent concert, which took place this past Saturday, was particularly challenging. The program was “A Night at the Opera,” featuring songs from several famous operas including Carmen, La Traviata, and Madama Butterfly. It was over 100 pages of fairly difficult music, with most of the lyrics in Italian or French. The chorus hired four professional soloists to sing the solo parts.
According to what Pahel told us, one of the soloists simply said that there was no way that we could handle the material. Apparently it was too much music and too difficult for a group that only met once a week. All the same, she agreed to take the part, and after hearing us at the dress rehearsal, was completely stunned that we had done the impossible. The concert ended up a great success and quite a lot of fun for everyone involved.
As I graduate from Knox next week, there are a number of memories I will take with me. Among my most cherished will be the time I have spent as a member of the Community Chorus. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to make great music with a very fun group of people. I am glad to have been a member.