CATONSVILLE, MD (November 17, 2015) – The Harmonizers, a 45-member mixed chorus, has been rehearsing for this year's holiday concert -- a two-day singing event at Charlestown retirement community on December 3rd and 4th filled with inspirational holiday classics – ever since the end of summer.
"We work very hard for three to four months before each concert," says Director Evelyn Chesnutt.
"I spend the summer selecting the music, and rehearsals begin in September. The entire group practices for two hours every Thursday, and then there is a smaller group that meets for one hour on Tuesdays," she says.
The Harmonizers formed 16 years ago from two separate choral groups at Charlestown: The Ladies in Harmony and the Men's Chorale. Evelyn, a lifelong singer and musician, stepped into the role of choral director in 2010.
"I started taking piano lessons when I was eight and have sung in choirs all my life," says Evelyn. "I brought my piano with me when we moved to Charlestown ten years ago, and I joined The Harmonizers not long after that. It's something I really enjoy. It brightens my life."
The Harmonizers perform an annual spring and winter concert, often to a full house, in the community's Muriel Caulfield Auditorium. Occasionally, they participate in special events upon request. This May, one of those special performances included singing the national anthem at Charlestown's Field of Honor event, a massive display of 1,000 American flags honoring those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Retired Marine Orchestra member Celeste Blasé accompanies The Harmonizers on piano, and musician Julia Hershfield, a Charlestown resident, is assistant accompanist. A dedicated group of nearly two dozen volunteers helps sell tickets, advertise the concerts, and serve as ushers. Charlestown residents trained in lighting and sound also offer their expertise during performances.
Joan Wellman, a member of The Harmonizers for seven years now, started singing as a child.
"I really enjoy it. I sang in school. I sang in church. It has always been a nice comfort for me," says Joan. "God gave me a voice; I might as well throw it out there."
"I've been singing with The Harmonizers for about four years now," says Bill Skillman, who also manages the group's website Charlestownharmonizers.org. "I attended a few of their concerts, and I've always loved to sing—I was in my church choir in Linthicum and sang in high school chorus—but I thought it would be a lot of fun and it has been."
The Harmonizers' concerts are open to the public. For upcoming concert dates and times or to watch past performances, visit Charlestownharmonizers.org.