Each month, music can be heard wafting out into the R.K. Smith Middle parking lot as a small group of parishioners comes together to share their love of singing. The 50-person ensemble lifts their voices in harmony and gives a sound to the River Parishes Community Chorus.
Their songs have uplifted the parish for more than 10 years, even after founder Marge Savola passed away in 2002.
“(Savola) started it with the idea of having singers throughout the community come together and perform in a group,” said Ginny Riecke, chorus singer and member of the Board of Directors. Now the group continues to honor Savola’s memory by keeping the chorus going strong for 12 years.
“Besides the enjoyment of singing, we have a very strong fellowship,” Riecke said. “We’re all different races and faiths…it really brings everybody together. We have a really, really good group of people.”
The chorus performs concerts twice a year - during Christmas and in the spring - on each side of the river. They also work with churches, veterans and senior citizens to provide entertainment to the community.
But none of their work would be possible without the support of their members, and Riecke said the chorus is always looking for new voices to add to their song.
“We’re really looking to get more members,” she said. “We welcome everybody to come and sing with us. You don’t have to audition and you don’t have to have previous music experience.”
The chorus is open to anyone in middle school or older; Riecke said that their members ranged from 12 to 80 years old last year. She said that members do not need to know how to read music or have previous music experience because Director Brian Martinez teaches and gives pointers.
Martinez said that the community chorus is a great addition to the parish and to the lives of its members.
“It’s a great asset to the community to be able to have a choir where everyone involved is completely committed - that creates a family effect within the group,” Martinez said. “Anyone can come and express themselves through music and have a great time doing it.”
Martinez, a St. Rose native, is going into his second year as the group’s director and also sings in the chorus of the New Orleans Opera and is the choir director at R.K. Smith Middle School.
“He has injected so much fun into it,” Riecke said of Martinez. “We’re just delighted; we leave practice every month smiling and laughing - it’s really nice.”
Those interested in joining the chorus can attend the first practice tonight, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at R.K. Smith Middle School. Middle school students are asked to bring a letter of recommendation from their teacher.
Members pay $30 in dues each year, but Riecke said that prospective singers can come to a few practices before they decide to join or not.
“People should come and see what it’s about,” she said.
The group practices every second and fourth Thursdays of each month from 7-9 p.m. at R.K. Smith Middle. Anyone who cannot attend this week’s meeting is welcome at future practices. For more information, email email@example.com or call (985)652-0162.
|Members of the River Parishes Community Chorus perform.|