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Discover Western Prince William December 2019
20
Community
Profile
Gainesville Community Choir: Just Sing!
Two established community chorales exist
in Prince William and Fauquier counties
(Manassas and Warrenton, respectively),
but thanks to Jacob Lash and Kerrie
Cardine, another one now thrives right in
between them--Gainesville Community
Choir (GCC).
Stemming from a musical family and church
community, Jacob grew up singing and
harmonizing by ear, and even taught himself
to play the piano at age 11. He didn't formally
study music until he began his undergraduate
studies at George Mason University (GMU),
where he had to spend some time catching up
to peers who had years of private instruction
under their belts. But those with musical
abilities stay the course, and Jacob has
taken his to a new level.
As an undergraduate, Jacob longed to
start a choir that was associated with his
home church, so he began to talk about it
and word spread. "Forty people showed
up to the first rehearsal in January 2013,"
he says, adding that their first concert was
performed that May. Since then, the choir
has grown to about 90 people, and it has
built a steady following through its website
and social media. It acquired 501(c)(3)
status within the last year.
Jacob serves as GCC's conductor and
works closely with his team, which includes
Kerrie, who is the assistant director, as well
as a piano accompanist, and four section
leaders. The choir enjoys learning music
from various genres, including classical,
rock, bluegrass, jazz, musical theatre, and
folk music from around the world.
GCC is fairly evenly split between men
and women, but with great diversity in
generations and talent. The group has
singers who are 15 years old through
retirement age, which isn't typical of most
community choirs. And their members run
the gamut from voice majors to people who
have never sung with a group in their lives.
The latter is important and sets this choir
apart. One of GCC's missions is to help
people learn how to sing and conquer
their fear of singing in front of people. It is
a non-audition choir that adheres to the
philosophy that everyone can improve.
Jacob loves the warm community vibe
within the choir, which he describes as
a "no-diva zone!" All participants are
there because they love to sing and
want to learn. To that end, he begins
each rehearsal with a short tutorial on a
relevant topic, such as music literacy and
vocal technique. He and Kerrie have also
led sessions after rehearsal to enhance
singers' knowledge and skills.
GCC members enjoy two annual traditions,
both started by Jacob. Each fall, he hires
a guest conductor to attend a rehearsal
and work with them, providing specific
music beforehand. The choir benefits from
the conductor's unique teaching style
as he or she guides them. In addition,
each spring, GCC hosts "Choir for a
Day," where members bring a friend
to a specific rehearsal, which is spent
learning two brand new pieces that are
simple enough for beginners to learn in
a single rehearsal. The guests are then
invited to join regular GCC singers onstage
during the spring concert to perform those
two pieces. It's a fun event and a great
recruitment tool!
The Gainesville Community Choir
typically performs a holiday concert in
mid-December, but this year's event was
unique. As Jacob prepares to complete
his master's degree in conducting at
GMU, the holiday concert, which was
a single performance on December 6,
doubled as his graduate conducting recital.
It included a hired 12-piece orchestra
to accompany the choir in performing
"Requiem for the Living," a 40-minute
multi-movement piece by contemporary
composer Dan Forrest. If you missed it,
make plans to attend GCC's spring concert
on May 23 & 24, 2020! To learn more, visit
gainesvillecommunitychoir.com.
~ Nancy Griffin-Bonnaire
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