Sopranos rehearsing, back row, from left, Beth Cahape, Annalee McConnell, Joan Coyne and Amy Johnson; front row, from left, Judy Backman, Mardelle Hansen and Mar Oneppo.

Sopranos rehearsing, back row, from left, Beth Cahape, Annalee McConnell, Joan Coyne and Amy Johnson; front row, from left, Judy Backman, Mardelle Hansen and Mar Oneppo.

Community Chorus of Port Townsend and East Jefferson County to host weekend concerts

PORT TOWNSEND — The Community Chorus of Port Townsend and East Jefferson County will perform Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass and Songs of Americana at two concerts this weekend.

The chorus will sing at 7 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 1111 Franklin St. in Port Townsend and again at 3 p.m. Sunday at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 45 Redeemer Way in Chimacum.

Tickets to either concert are a suggested $15 and are available at www.brownpaper tickets.com or at the door.

The program opens with “Gospel Mass” by Robert Ray and then moves to songs of Americana.

Ray wrote “Gospel Mass” in 1981, intending a one-time performance, but it has grown in popularity and become a seminal piece of African American music.

Jonathan Stafford, the choir’s spring director, chose the piece for its contrast of energy and beauty and how it moves its participants.

“It’s my all-time favorite piece to perform,” said Stafford, who first conducted the “Gospel Mass” 20 years ago.

Some of the other songs in the lineup were included on the program that they were forced to abandon in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We never got to perform them, so it’s great to go back and sing them again,” said Joan Coyne, a soprano and member of the chorus’ board.

These familiar tunes, which are part of Americans’ shared history, include Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Camptown Races,” Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” and Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel.”

Liz Hopkins, the chorus’ piano accompanist, will be joined by guitarist Aaron Spieldenner, bassist Cat Chichester and drummer Sammy J. Watson.

The choir also has organized a gift basket fundraiser to benefit the Gerry Hyatt Bergstrom Vocal Music Scholarship. The scholarship is offered annually by the chorus to qualifying graduating high school seniors or to college students to study of vocal music.

Raffle tickets, $5 each or $10 for three, will be available at the door at both concerts.

The baskets are filled with mostly local goods and have the following themes: picnic/barbecue, art/journaling, local products, coffee/tea/sweets and treats, and gardening.

For more information, call 360-643-3345 or visit www.ptchorus.org.

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