Peninsula Singers invite newcomers to choir

‘Virtual Cabaret’ free for viewers

Peninsula Chamber Singers conductor Dr. Jerome L. Wright. (Ernst-Ulrich Schafer)

Peninsula Chamber Singers conductor Dr. Jerome L. Wright. (Ernst-Ulrich Schafer)

SEQUIM — The Peninsula Singers, the three-decades-old ensemble based in Sequim, is inviting performers to audition and join the choir for its next concerts in January.

“It’s a challenge. So it’s rewarding when it all comes together,” said Valerie Lape, a soprano with the singers since she moved to the North Olympic Peninsula in 2005.

Lape, also president of the nonprofit choir’s board, encourages singers to contact conductor and music director Jerome Wright at [email protected] Prospective members need solid choral experience, the ability to read music and proof of COVID-19 vaccination, Wright said.

The Peninsula Singers began in 1988 with Dennis Crabbe as director.

Dewey Ehling then led the choir from 1990 until his death in 2016.

In 2020, the singers were silenced by the pandemic; then, this October, about 20 of the members reunited.

“A portion of our group decided to step out in optimism and start rehearsing,” Wright said.

The singers practice at the Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, 925 N. Sequim Ave., which he hopes will be the venue for their winter concerts. Two are planned, on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, with a public dress rehearsal Jan. 28.

“We are following the COVID standards for our host church, so we sing with masks on,” said Wright, adding all of the singers are fully vaccinated.

In the meantime, Wright and the choir have produced a “Virtual Cabaret” and made it available at peninsulasingers.org.

It’s a revue of songs, many of them holiday-themed: “A Child Is Born in a Manger” with singer Joel Yelland and pianist Linda Dowdell; “O Holy Night” with soprano Erin Wood are part of the program.

Carol Swarbrick, a film and stage actor who lives in Sequim, sings Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” and a piece called “Rap” from the musical “Sister Act.”

Swarbrick was to perform in that show at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in early 2020, but, like its counterparts around the world, the run for “Sister Act” was canceled.

Members of the Seattle Girls’ Choir, Seattle Youth Symphony and Bellevue Youth Symphony appear, too, and the finale is Jacob Winkler’s arrangement of “True Colors.”

The Virtual Cabaret is free to watch, although the Peninsula Singers welcome donations, Wright said.

In January, their concerts’ theme will be the title of Robert Lowry’s folk song: “How Can I Keep From Singing?”

The performances will open with three pieces in memory of those lost to COVID: two from Mozart plus Maurice Duruflé’s “Ubi Caritas.”

The second section will lift the mood with songs by Handel, Beethoven and Verdi, sung in Italian. Then will come Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” selections from the “Schindler’s List” soundtrack and Karen P. Thomas of Seattle’s arrangement of “How Can I Keep from Singing?”

The finale: Handel’s “Hallelujah,” sung by the choir and the audience together.

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Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.

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