Danville Area Choral Arts Society hosting concert May 14 – Chatham Star-Tribune

Danville Area Choral Arts Society hosting concert May 14 – Chatham Star-Tribune

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Cloudy with showers. Low 59F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Updated: May 11, 2022 @ 11:46 pm
The Danville Area Choral Society.

The Danville Area Choral Society.
For the past 35 years, the Danville Area Choral Arts Society has been providing the local region with high-quality musical presentations, as well as opportunities for area residents to participate in a worthwhile mission – to promote music and singing in Southern Virginia.
“The Danville Area Choral Arts Society is a choral arts group that was started 35 years ago. It draws from not only Danville, but surrounding areas – Gretna, Chatham, Collinsville. Really anyone in the area is welcome to sing with us. We do all types of music,” said Executive Director Carolyn Smith in a recent interview with the Star-Tribune. “Since it’s the only choral arts society (in the area), we not only do classical things, but we’ve done broadway and Forties music. We’ve even done some bluegrass themes, movie themes. We’ve just had a variety of concerts over the years.”
After two years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Danville Area Choral Arts Society is celebrating 35 years of local choral music with a concert on Saturday, May 14 at 5 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, located at 3090 N. Main Street in Danville. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. 
“Before COVID, we usually performed at least two major concerts,” said Smith. “That shut us down for a while, like it did everyone else. But we usually perform two major concerts a year. We also perform with the Danville Symphony Orchestra, usually for a Holiday concert and a Fourth of July concert.”
The all-volunteer Choral Arts Society is directed is Dr. Christopher Swanson, who has been with the organization for the past couple of years. Swanson replaced Robert Sutter, the longtime Choral Arts Society Director who is now accompanying Swanson with various projects such as the upcoming May 14 concert at St. Luke’s Methodist Church.
“We are very fortunate to have him,” Smith said of Dr. Swanson. “He is a Voice and Choral Director at Longwood College, who makes that long two hour drive each way to come for our rehearsals. He is fantastic. We’re very fortunate to have him. Our longtime Choral Director, Robert Sutter is now accompanying. Dr. Swanson stepped in during an emergency a couple of years back just weeks before a concert, and was just so fantastic. Everyone loves him. We’ve been very, very fortunate with that. He is also the Director of the Summer Garden Opera Company, which performs in Richmond. So he is obviously very talented.”
The Danville Choral Arts Society is sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region, the Kiwanis Club of Danville, and American National Bank, along with the support of the greater Danville community.
“We are generally supported throughout the community, which is fabulous,” Smith said. 
Although the Choral Arts Society has held strong from a membership standpoint for three and a half decades, the last couple of years have brought tremendous challenges to the organization in terms of staying engaged and holding their base of members. The upcoming concert is being seen in many ways as a golden opportunity to help build back the numbers of participants. 
“We usually have about 40 members. That’s always a sort of, you lose a few, and you get some back. But this has been a particularly challenging time because of COVID,” Smith explained. “Some people just haven’t felt comfortable returning to singing, or once people get out of a habit of doing something like that, it’s hard to get them back. So this is sort of a rebuilding year, but we have gotten a solid group together, and we are excited that we have survived it.” 
The May 14 concert, instead of being tied to one specific genre or theme, is going to celebrate the organization’s 35 years by providing an eclectic range of music from across many spectrums throughout the group’s long history.
“Since this is our 35th year, we went back through music that our singers had loved that we could perform,” Smith indicated. “It’s no particular genre. A variety of music has been chosen from previous concerts.”
Along with the chosen songs, the Society will be singing a special Ukrainian prayer that was recently put together by famed English composer John Rutter. 
“In addition, a piece that we have not done before is John Rutter – he is a very well-loved easy listening kind of composer – we are doing several of his pieces,” Smith explained. “He just recently wrote a Ukrainian prayer. So we are doing that, and that is very meaningful. So we are singing that.”
The approximately one-hour concert will feature the following music selections:
•As Time Goes By
•Give Me the Simple Life
•Laughing Son
•Soldiers’ Joy
•For the Beauty of the Earth (John Rutter)
•With Heart and Hands (John Rutter)
•I Will Sing with the Spirit (John Rutter)
•A Ukrainian Prayer (John Rutter)
•Have Ye Not Known?/Ye Shall Have A Song (Randall Thompson)
•Within Creation (arranged by Carolyn Hamlin)
•Praise to the Lord (arranged by F. Melius Christiansen)
The Choral Arts Society is excited about the opportunity to re-introduce choral performance to Southside Virginia after missing out on the last couple of years due to the pandemic. They are looking forward to seeing local choral music enthusiasts who come out to see them perform May 14 at St. Luke’s Methodist.
“This concert is just to bring the group back together and rebuild, encourage people to come back to hear choral music, and in doing so, just picking pieces that we’ve previously performed over the past 35 years that we think they will enjoy,” Smith said. “Choral music has been quieted for almost two years due to COVID restrictions. This will be the first concert welcoming back all our members.”
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