By Susan Mikula Campbell
Put a song in your heart and bring family and friends so they can too, as the Grand Island Community Chorus presents "Music of the Movies" as its annual summer concert this week.
Movie tunes such as "Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz," "Stormy Weather" from "Ain't Misbehavin" and "Down to the River to Pray" from "O Brother, Where Art Thou" will be presented by the local singers beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 21. The concert will take place at St. Timothy Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1453 Staley Road (at the corner of Stony Point Road). Admission is free and refreshments will follow the concert.
"We give you really good music, we don't charge anything and we feed you," said bass singer and Community Chorus President Jim Watz. "Where could you get a better deal than that?"
No one minds if you sing along. "It's a really, really fun selection of music," Watz said of the family-oriented concert.
Alto Paula Cramer noted that Community Chorus concerts are always free, but if audience members wish, they can make a free-will offering that goes to support the $500 scholarship the chorus offers each year to an Island senior who plans to continue in choral music in college.
The summer concert is always fun with membership beefed up by recent grads and college students home for the summer, Watz said. The core group is usually about 30 members.
The chorus will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, Watz said. Some like him enjoy singing and are "there to have fun."
"I love to sing," said Cramer, who also acts as the Grand Island Community Chorus membership director. She and Watz have been members since the group first started in 2006.
Cramer also sings with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and with the church choir at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church.
Leading the Grand Island Community Chorus as conductor is Carolyn Lokken, retired Grand Island Schools choral director.
"Many of us have children or grandchildren who were taught by Carolyn," Watz said.
"I think she brings out the best in everyone in the choir. She is an excellent conductor and makes it fun," Cramer said, pointing out that many of Lokken's students join the chorus. "She never, ever puts anybody down."
Cramer counts Lokken as a personal friend - "She makes me feel like I'm part of her family, even."
Accompanist for the Grand Island Community Chorus is Kathy DeGlopper.
"I always tell people she makes us sound better than we really are - that's why we keep her around," Watz said.
The Grand Island Community Chorus presents three free concerts a year: One in the summer, a Christmas concert and a spring concert. In addition, the group performs for various civic, service and charitable groups on Grand Island and elsewhere in the area, including nursing homes. They also have done some telethons and will be joining the singers at the Island's annual Thanksgiving ecumenical service.
"We're always available to sing," Watz said. "We feel like we're giving back something to the community for all the community has done for us."