We are family: More than just music


The members of the Bristol Chorale, Plainville Choral Society, and the Southington Festival Chorale are busy preparing for their upcoming performances. With members from across the region, these musical societies consider themselves to be more than just singing groups—they are families.

In Southington, Sharon Tyler has been a member for her entire life. Her mother was one of the group’s founding members, and both women continue to sing in the chorale to this day.

“I started as a tag-along. My mom used to take me to rehearsals when I was little,” said Tyler. “Over the years, I got involved in a variety of different music groups… until I was old enough to join the festival chorale.”

It’s a quick turnaround for the Plainville Choral. They just finished their winter show in December, but on Feb. 28 they’ll take the stage again for their next show, “Past Present and Future.”

Plainville’s group is almost ready to open the second show of their 50th anniversary celebration, “Past Present and Future,” highlighting the group’s rich history by incorporating returning, current, and possible future members, like students who have received scholarships from the group, and the young people involved with the former youth theater program.

“We’ve been working on it now for several months, and I just cannot wait for the show,” said Debi Wishart-Parker, president of the choral society. “I’m so excited because we have people coming back.”

Returning to the Plainville stage are former director and piano accompanist, Peter and Mary Jane Peluso, amongst others. Throughout the three segment show—each showcasing one of the three time periods—the audience will be treated to performances recalling the works of Sonny and Cher, as well as previous performances favorites like “Bridge over Troubled Water,” “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” and “I Believe.”

The Bristol Chorale is gearing up for the last year with artistic director, Ken Ferris, who has been with the group for the past 18 years. Throughout his tenure with the chorale, Ferris said he can always expect to see between 85 and 110 members depending upon the season, and that membership often spans across decades.

“The chorale is really like a family,” said Ferris. “We have many husband-and-wife combos, which I think is kind of neat to get the whole family involved. We have one family that has grandparents, parents, and two of their children.”

Director Chris Hertel will lead the Southington Festival Chorale in their spring show on Sunday, May 3, at the First Lutheran Church at 232 Bristol Street in Southington.

“This is the best kept secret in Southington,” said Hertel. “We want people to know we are here, to join us, to sing with us. Having a community chorale can help build a stronger community by all of us coming together to sing.”

The festival chorale rehearses weekly at Southington Community Cultural Arts center for their biannual performances. Hopeful members are not required to audition, but are asked to pay dues of $25 per concert, used to rent rehearsal space and materials. Those who are interested in joining should contact them by email—southingtonchorale@gmail.com.

Led by Greg Wilfrid, PCS will present “Past Present and Future,” on Friday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Middle School of Plainville, 150 Northwest Drive. Tickets are on sale now through their website pcsmusic.net.

A member of the Southington Festival Chorale studies the music for the upcoming spring concert. Rehearsals are underway for their May 3 spring concert. (Photo by Sheridan Roy)

Following this performance, PCS will continue rehearsing their dinner theater event, which will be held in March, and will begin holding auditions for their May performance, the last before breaking for the summer months.

The Bristol Chorale will be performing with the Travelers Chorale at The Bushnell Performing Arts Center at 166 Capitol Ave., in Hartford, on Thursday, May 7. The performance is free to attend, but attendees are asked to bring a nonperishable food item as a donation. More information regarding upcoming performances—including the Bristol Chorale Spring Concert on Saturday, May 9—can be found on their website, bristolchoralsociety.org.

Sheridan Roy contributed. To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at Entertainment@PlainvilleObserver.com.