The Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia

"Cultural Jewel in the Heart of Virginia"



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Exciting Spring Season Concludes!!

Posted on May 14, 2016 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (25)

The Chorale concluded its Spring Concert Season with two successsful performances of John Jacob Niles' rarely performed oratorio, "Lamentation."    Many audience members commented that they were moved by the emotional intensity of the music. Chorale members are grateful to have had the opportunity to sing this beautiful and unusual work from one of America's greatest folklorists.    

Meet Our Soloists!

Posted on April 16, 2016 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (24)

Our talented  "Lamenation" soloists are:

Alex Haskins, tenor: Alex lives in Red Oak, VA, with his wife Charlene.  He is a member of St. Level Baptist Church where he serves as choir director, deacon, and trustee.  He taught music and science at Bacon District and Wyliesburg Elementary schools, respectively, and is retired from Charlotte County Department of Social Services.

Marilyn Swanson, soprano:  Coming from Chicago and moving to Virginia 18 years ago, Marilyn has sung with the Commonwealth Chorale since 1998.  She says, "The Chorale has provided the opportunity to sing some of the most beautiful works of music, and meet with wonderful people at every rehearsal.  It is joy to the heart!"  Marilyn has also served on the Board of Directors of the Chorale since 2012.

Judy Amos, mezzo-soprano:   Judy has served as full-time music director at Crenshaw United Methodist Church in Blackstone, including directing three choirs, two bell choirs, and serving as organist.  She is also a mom and grandmother with family all over the country.  She lived for several years in Italy. Judy has been a member of the Chorale's Board of Directors since 2015.

Paul Robelen, tenor:  Paul received his education at Pensacola Christian College, where he was a Music and Ministerial major.  He later received his Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies from Indiana Baptist College. He has been involved in ministries in dozens of churches all over the country. When not preaching elsewhere, he assists with the music, visitation, and Sunday school ministries at Trinity Baptist Church in Keysville, VA, where he is a member.

Robert Horn, baritone:  Bob graduated from Bridgewater College and University of Virginia as a voice major.  He is a former band director and choir director, as well as being a retired public school administrator. He is currently the director of the choir and bell choir at Crewe United Methodist Church.

Sarah Reynolds, soprano:  Sarah grew up in a very musical household, and while she has dabbled with various instruments through the years, singing has always been her passion.  In addition to singing with the Commonwealth Chorale, her Farmville credits include performing in the chorus of the Summer Garden Opera for the last two years.  She came to the area almost five years ago to join the staff at the Longwood University Library and was excited to find so many places to sing challenging, interesting music.  When she's not singing, you'll probably find her with a book or playing with yarn!

Meg Sandridge-Mangum, soprano:  Meg hails from Pittsburgh where she graduated from Schenley High School and Chatham College for Women.  Meg holds a B.S. summa com laude in Music Education from the University of Maryland, and sang as a professional chorister in Washington, D.C. and later in New York City before moving to Buckingham in1997.  She joined the Chorale in 1999.

Standing Room Only!

Posted on March 28, 2016 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (173)

In December, the Farmville performance of Handel's "Messiah" was presented to a full house, proving once again the enduring popularity of this masterwork and the widely anticipated tradition that this biennial performance has become.  We are grateful to our appreciative audience, as well as to our many donors and supporters, who make it possible to continue our work. 

Exciting News!

Posted on November 16, 2015 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (87)

Anthony Kent,  a former Commonwealth Chorale member and Longwood student,  has recently been commissioned by the Staatsoper of Hamburg, Germany, to prepare an opera based on the works of English composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976).  This Honor comes on top of Tony's already distinguished career as a tenor soloist, conductor, and chorus master in Austria and Germany.  In recent years Tony has conducted and done all the vocal preparations for the Hamburg production of the "Lion King".  He holds a Master's Degree from the University of Hamburg.  We are fortunate to have him serving on the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Chorale.

The Chorale is pleased to recognize the talented members of the orchestra who will play for this year's performance of the Messiah.  Among them are several young people who will be playing with us for the first time.

Christian Diaz is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University currently studying Exercise Science to become a Physical Therapist.  He is a violinist performing with the VCU Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.

Alex Taing is a ninth grader who began studying violin at age ten with Mrs. Eun-Jin Carmen and viola a year later in school.  He currently studies with Mr. Andy Certner.  He has played both instruments with the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra for three years, where he is now principal violinist.

Donovan Williams is a seventh grader at Collegiate School in Richmond.  He was introduced to the violin at an early age by his grandmother.  He began formal lessons in kindergarten, and continues to study with Mrs. Francoise Moquin of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.  He has played with the Short Pump Symphonettes and is now a first violinist with the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra.  He also composes for a variety of instrument ensembles.

The orchestra members are:

First Violin: Kathy Rosenberg, (Concert Master); Jonathan Lingerfelt; Christian Diaz; Barbara Kelshaw.

Second Violin: Sarah Miranda;  Caleb Johnson;  Sandy Shelton;  Donovan Williams

Viola:  Brenda Johnson;  Alex Taing

Cello:  Suzanne Maerz;  Sheryl Smith

Bass:  Eric Hollandsworth

Trumpet:  Nat Boyd;  Eric Cousins

Piano:  Maxine Hollinger

Percussion:  David Chambliss

Rondi's Voices

Posted on April 19, 2015 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (86)

Our children's chorale, Rondi's Voices, is named for Rondi Arlton.  Rondi was a member and strong supporter of The Commonwealth Chorale as well as a member of the College Presbyterian Church choir.  She led the youth ministry at College church for many years and performed traditional music with the Arltones at College Church.  We are honored that her musical legacy continues as we welcome the children's contribution to the chorale.  The singers, ages 6-12, are directed by Chris Prengaman.  They will be accompanied by Michael Lazarski on guitar in their upcoming "Appalachian Songs."  We look forward to their participation in many of our future performances.

The Commonwealth Chorale lost a long-time friend, supporter, and Advisory Board member with the passing of Dr. James B. Erb on November 11, 2014.  Dr. Erb taught music for 39 years at the University of Richmond and was founding director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus.  His enthusiasm and passion for musical excellence influenced several generations of choral singers in the Richmond area and beyond.  Perhaps the best known of his compositions is his eight-part arrangement of "Shenandoah", which is sung all over the world.

We have several new members this year:  Maxine Hollinger, our pianist;  Paul Robelen, one of our tenor soloists;  Peggy Kelsey, soprano; Linda Moore, soprano;  and Joel Langner, tenor.  New singers are always welcome, in keeping with our mission of being a true community chorale.

Our fall/winter season concluded after two successful performances of Johann Sebastian Bach's glorious "Christmas Oratorio", which was sung at Memorial United Methodist Church in Appomattox and United Methodist Church of Farmville.  Members of the children's choir joined the adult members in this beautiful work, which recounts the story of Christ's birth as it appears in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.  The format of "Christmas Oratorio" is that of a festive cantata, rather than a true oratorio, combining an Evangelist who narrates the story, with recitatives, arias, and chorales which were readily recognizable as hymn tunes by the people of Bach's day. The work was completed by Bach around Christmas time of 1734.

News from The Commonwealth Chorale

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (31)

Now we announce to everybody that we are performing the world's greatest choral hits.

Some of our singers have been with us since the 70's and when we started up again in the 90s.

Fourteen counties in Virginia are represented and one of our aims is to perform in each of them.

New members keep coming. We welcome Dr. David Smith, superintendent of P.E. schools,

Maxine Hollinger, organist of Appomattox Memorial Methodist, Leah Olivier,

Dorothy Therkildsen, Dana Garrett and Bill Chrystal now retired.

Glen is back to spotlight his brilliant keyboard. Sandra Wade will play organ in Amelia,

adding that whole new sound.

Our children are anxious to perform our Bach again at Christmas.

Please let us know when you come to hear us.