GREENFIELD — A community choir that formed nearly a half century ago is seeking new leadership, so as to not become another casualty of COVID.
Loretta Canter is one of only two original members remaining in the Greenfield Community Choir, which was formed in 1973.
The choir has performed hundreds of free concerts under six directors over the years, she said, but recent turnover — coupled with more than an 18-month hiatus due to COVID — is making it hard for the choir to get back into the swing of things.
Members are in search of a new director and accompanist to help get them back out on the stage, hopefully in time to perform a holiday concert this year. Both are paid positions, while choir members are all dues-paying volunteers.
“We’re definitely in a rebuilding phase,” said Canter, who owns Ella June’s boutique in downtown Greenfield.
The last director, Shockley Flick, the former choir director at Park Chapel Christian Church, stepped down last year after retiring to spend more time with his family on the West Coast.
The last accompanist, Christopher Gordon, resigned after taking a new job that requires travel.
Both men were phenomenal and have been hard to replace, said Julia Glass, a 10-year choir member and secretary of the board.
Finding new leadership has been even harder since COVID brought rehearsals to a halt in March last year, she said.
“We’ve been together consistently for 47 years until COVID hit,” said Glass, who lives in Greenfield.
The choir was formed by former Greenfield resident Judy Bunch, who reached out to Charlie Wright, the local high school choir director at the time, expressing a desire to start a singing group.
Wright directed the choir from 1973 through 1998, and five other directors have come and gone since then. All the directors have been great, said Canter, but she worries that the choir won’t survive if a new leader isn’t found soon.
“It would be a shame to have something that’s been going on for so many years and see it just disband,” she said.
The choir typically presents four concerts a year, with a few smaller shows in between. The group often performs at the Riley Festival, and has had smaller groups within the choir perform for civic groups, churches and other organizations.
In addition to weekend performances, the choir gathers for two-hour rehearsals at Greenfield Christian Church on Tuesday nights.
Canter’s favorite concerts have always been the dinner theater shows the choir has performed at various venues in town, often to sellout crowds.
“We really want to have a Christmas concert this year, which means we need to start rehearsal the first of October,” she said. “I think once a singer, always a singer, and we definitely want to sing.”
“Anyone who sings has to sing, that’s just all there is to it. It’s inside you and has to come out. It’s joyful, and to do it is just a pleasure,” she said.
The Greenfield choir is open to everyone with a passion for singing who can carry a tune, said Glass, even those who don’t live in Greenfield.
More than 40 people showed up at a callout session for past members in May, she said, and many more who couldn’t be there expressed interest in getting back to performing as soon as possible.
She’s hoping the next director and accompanist look at joining the choir as a long-term commitment, and the chance to be part of something great.
To apply for the director or accompanist positions, or to learn more about joining the choir, contact Glass at 317-462-4625 or [email protected].