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Kent Singers celebrate 40th season

Published 5:33 pm, Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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  • The 2012 edition of the Kent Singers, shown here in April, is celebrating the group's 40th anniversary this year.

Courtesy of the Kent Singers Photo: Contributed Photo
    The 2012 edition of the Kent Singers, shown here in April, is celebrating the group's 40th anniversary this year. Courtesy of the Kent Singers Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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The Kent Singers have delivered classical choral music to this area for 40 years.

The amateur group is comprised of auditioned singers who typically perform five concerts annually -- two during the December holiday season and three in the spring.

The Kent Singers will appear Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Bridgewater and perform Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Kent.

Their music will feature Antonio Vivaldi's "Gloria," "A Child is Born" by Heinrich Schultz, and "Count Your Blessings" by Irving Berlin.

Solos and duets in "Gloria" will be performed by guest singers Linda Burton and Melissa Schipul.

The group was created in 1972 by Jon LaFleur, a music teacher and member of the Kent Congregational Church.

The original Kent Singers was comprised of 11 church members who wanted to start a local choral group.

"In 1977, we performed `The Creation' with a $1,000 grant from the state Commission on the Arts," Mr. LaFleur, now retired, said. "That was our first big concert."

For 20 years, Mr. LaFleur conducted the Kent Singers. His last performance with the group was "St. Matthew Passion" in 1992.

"I got a full time teaching job in Norwalk and it was simply too exhausting to return to Kent weekends," he said.

Yet Mr. Lafleur still keeps an active hand. He secured Ms. Burton and Ms. Schipul to perform during the group's December concerts.

"It's a wonderful group of people," said Robert Woodruff, the choral president. "We pick up a handful of singers each year and lose one or two when they leave the area."

When Mr. Woodruff joined the Kent Singers in 2007, there were 12 members in the group. There are now 20.

Music director Mark Brooks began singing in the group in 1992.

"From 1992 to 2008, I was just singing -- baritone or tenor -- whichever was needed," Mr. Brooks said. "Then in 2008, we switched up to a cappella and self-directed performances.

"We would rotate leading rehearsals. When some people moved on, by default, I became the music director.

"I've tried to develop an ensemble feeling, where I can be in the back of the chorus, singing, with nods to the group to direct the performance.

"We switched to a cappella in 2008 due to financial concerns with the economy. Now our financial support is starting to come back and we're able to do more extensive performances again. We're excited."

The December concerts will feature concert pianist Sandy Kleisner.

Mr. Woodruff said improved financial resources coud allow the group to once again bring on a professional music director.

Auditions for the 2012 season will be held Jan. 2 and Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at Kent Center School in Kent.

For more information on the Dec. 2 or Dec. 9 concerts, call 860-619-8110 or go to www.kentsingers.com. A ticket is $12 in advance or $15 at the door.

For more photos, check www.newmilfordspectrum.com.