With the anticipation of summer comes the close of another school year, and a respite from all things academic. Fair enough for students and teachers. But for those who enjoy the camaraderie of a community choir that began because school was in session, the close of this academic year marks an important milestone.
This spring, the Woodrow Wilson High School Community Chorus will have been in existence for one year, and both the director, Sean Morrison, and members are excited at the progress the choir has seen in such a short period of time.
“The students don’t realize that their parents or faculty can actually sing,” Morrison says. “The first time we performed, the students were actually quite taken by the community chorus. And I was very fortunate not to ask some of my students — because I have very talented students — to come in and bail us out.”
Morrison, a former Woodrow student, recently graduated from Oklahoma City University and accepted the position of choral director at his high school alma mater. Formed in October 2003, the idea for the choir came about from a conversation that Morrison had with a colleague and former math instructor, Bob Irby.
“I mentioned to Sean that there was a big talent pool in that community,” Irby says. “We could probably start a community chorus and have several parents and people from the community who would want to participate.”
It was at Irby’s suggestion that Morrison began to publicize the choir.
“At the parents meeting at the beginning of the year, I announced it to all of the parents who came to the meeting, and sure enough, we had about 20 people show up,” Morrison says.
“One of the main draws of the choir is that we sing music that is not necessarily sacred, but that is challenging,” he says. “We don’t just sing easy stuff. It’s fun because of the difficulty of the music. It actually presents a challenge … we do sing secular. And that’s a draw because everybody sings in church choir.”
Cindy George, a soprano, enjoys participating not only because she loves singing, but also because of her dedication to Woodrow Wilson.
“I love Woodrow. It’s a fabulous school,” she says. “And everything I do there supports the benefit of my kids, and it gives me an hour a week for something that I enjoy doing for a school that I love.”
True to the neighborly spirit of the community where Woodrow resides, participation in the choir is not contingent on a successful audition.
“Anyone in the neighborhood can do it. It’s comprised of faculty, alumni, parents and people who just had kids who went to Woodrow,” says Morrison, mentioning that the choir is not even restricted to neighborhood singers. “An old friend of mine from church sings in the choir, and he lives in the Hillcrest area.”
Concerts this year included singing for a portion of the Woodrow Wilson High School Christmas program and performing at the 75th anniversary of the school. Morrison envisions greater prominence in the future.
“Hopefully, we’ll have our own venue. We won’t necessarily say, ‘Come see the kids and the community chorus,’ but have an actual performance for the community chorus. It’s nice to do it at Woodrow, but I’d like the chorus to stand on its own feet, where we’ll have our own venue. That would be a great achievement.”
While a love of singing is certainly a prerequisite for this choir, verve for the community also gives credence to the success of the group.
“I think it’s really neat that the faculty and the parents and the alumni and the neighborhood people are all in the same room,” Morrison says. “They’re not worried about grades, or anything like that. We’re just having fun. We’re enjoying singing.”
Involvement in the choir also allows members to get to know each other better.
“Some of the members I knew ahead of time,” George says, but she notes the choir also gave her a good opportunity to meet new people.
“It’s good to have fellowship and to be around people who enjoy music,” Morrison says. “We joke, we laugh. We’re all friends. We all have a good time.”
For information about the WWHS Community Chorus, contact Sean Morrison at 972-502-4438.
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