If you like to sing with others and have Tuesday evenings free, you’re invited to join the St. John Recovery Choir.
Rehearsals begin Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Gifft Hill School Upper Campus, and new members – experienced or not – are welcome to join and become part of an island-wide celebration in the park in Cruz Bay on Dec. 23.
It will be the first holiday concert in Frank Powell Sr. Park since the onset of the pandemic in 2019, and Kristen Carmichael-Bowers, executive director of Sing St. John, which is producing the event, has been deep in preparation for months.
The Recovery Choir – which got its name when it formed after Hurricane Irma – is non-denominational and performs songs from many holiday traditions – Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice.
This year, the Recovery Choir will learn Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from “The Messiah,” a time-honored favorite. They will be joined during the performance by several St. John church choirs and musical organizations, who will also take their turn on the stage.
“The Hallelujah Chorus” is an ambitious piece, Carmichael-Bowers admits, but she’s had decades of experience teaching singing to children, adults, and seniors – from rank beginners to professionals. “I will work with ‘newbies’ and with people who haven’t sung in a while or don’t feel confident,” she said.
Carmichael-Bowers supplies singers with guide tracks on CDs, sheet music, and lyric sheets. Rehearsals for each section are scheduled for evenings on Monday (tenor and bass) and Thursday (soprano and alto) and will be held online through Zoom.
Recovery Choir members are also invited to take weekly classes in sight singing and monthly workshops in vocal technique.
For the past two years, the Recovery Choir has rehearsed and performed its concerts virtually through Zoom, and Carmichael-Bowers is thrilled to go live. “We’re in person again! It’s a big deal!”
“Zoom is wonderful as a way of keeping us connected on some level,” Carmichael-Bowers added. “But last year in March, when we began to sing together outdoors, we realized the elation of hearing each other’s sounds at the exact same time and without that split-second delay on Zoom. For voices to be heard in a moment, exactly as they are, has something to do with a profound sense of belonging. It’s hard to define, but it’s real.”
For more information or to join the Recovery Choir, go to Sing St. John’s website and click on the box to register. The $50 registration fee will be waived upon request. “We don’t want the fee to deter anyone from joining,” Carmichael-Bowers said.
For further information, call 340-227-4920 or send an email to info@singstjohn.
The Recovery Choir is one of seven programs presented by Sing St. John, which is supported solely by community donations and grants. Right now, Sing St. John is halfway through its annual fall appeal to raise $60,000 to meet a matching grant generously offered by Martha Robes and Dana Robes.
“It’s a great time to donate to Sing St. John,” said Carmichael-Bowers.
“Every donation, no matter the size, goes twice as far.” Donations can be made online with a credit or debit card or through PayPal by clicking this link https://www.singstjohn.org/support-us.html. Checks can be mailed to Sing St. John, Box 37, St. John, VI 00831.
In addition to community donations, Sing St. John is supported by grants from V.I. Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, a federal agency; the Virgin Islands Lottery; the Hodge Senior Citizen Fund through Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands; the Rotary Club of St. John; Seven Seas Water; and Dana and Martha Robes.