Usually on a weekday night this time of year as you pass the United Methodist Church in Chester you can hear the happy and sometimes frustrated sounds of singers learning new music for the Spring concert in May. Conductor Jane Brown talks about each piece and gets the singers to listen to how all the parts are supposed to go as they attempt the music for the first time.
Singers from Chester, Lake Almanor, Westwood, and Indian Valley come together under the direction of conductor Jane Brown to deliver a few days of music for the enjoyment of all who hear them. The choir is usually a class with Feather River College and an opportunity for a credit for students and lifelong learning for retirees. But this year the hall at the church is empty and silent. Their last concert was Christmas 2019. Right before the first lockdown 20-25 singers were getting ready for spring. They had their first meeting and were excited to do a concert of music from the 1940s.
“We really like to sing and we welcome new singers,” said CCC board president Jane Hilliard.
The Chester Community Chorus is still alive and well and looking forward to the future. They are getting by the same as the rest of us and trying new things to keep motivated while they wait out the pandemic. Conductor Jane Brown is still at the helm — at a distance.
“We are trying to stay together,” said Hilliard. When lockdown first occurred, they made plans for an outdoor gathering to sing with a picnic— then that was canceled as things got worse. Now they are hoping to be back for Christmas 2021 singing in the church. In the meantime, they’ve gotten innovative.
“The CCC feels lucky to continue to have Jane Brown as our conductor, these past six years. Not only is she fun; her enthusiasm, energy and team building leadership style is inspirational. We learn a lot from Jane while having a great time under her direction. Jane is currently a doctoral candidate in the last semester of her studies at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is busy teaching music for Plumas Unified School District and writing her dissertation, while still serving as the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Reno Pops Orchestra. She loves to work with the Chester Community Chorus and is looking forward to the time when we can finally sing together for our community again,” said Hilliard.
A handful of chorus members have been on zoom on Monday nights using a program called Note Flight to download the songs they’ll eventually sing together in person. They sing together and try and get the sheet music down. Hilliard says it’s been fun. She’s hoping as they get the hang of it more chorus members try it out. It’s choir practice at home. Brown encourages them to keep singing. Sing at home. Sing in the shower. Everything they can do to keep motivated to come back strong. Together.
Being in a chorus is being part of a community. Each person and section has their role to play, their notes to sing. It’s important to the chorus that COVID does not render the chorus to the annals of local history.
“We will be back,” Hilliard said. For locals wanting to join the chorus for the love of singing even when you can’t do it in person, Hilliard says to drop her an email: [email protected].