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Musical connection

Oak Crest and Edgewood High come together for intergenerational concert

Created date

May 21st, 2014
choir group
The performers of the Oak Crest Chorus

They may not keep up with the Kardashians or have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but there is one thing residents at Crest have in common with the students at Edgewood High School: their passion for singing.

This April, the Oak Crest Chorus joined the Edgewood High School Chamber Singers to perform in a two-day concert, “Sing—for a lifetime!” Thirty-three seasoned, experienced voices of Oak Crest joined 20 youthful, energetic musicians from Harford County in a program of choral music that was passionate, playful, prayerful, and patriotic.

The concert was a culmination of Oak Crest Chorus Director Sallie Horner’s idea to incorporate an intergenerational component to the chorus’s repertoire along with Community Resources Director Nadine Wellington’s affection for her alma mater. 

“When I heard that Sallie was looking for an opportunity for the chorus to interact with students, I naturally thought of Edgewood High School. I’ve heard the Chamber Singers perform and knew they were a talented group,” says Wellington, a 1972 graduate. 

All it took was one call from Wellington to Jeff Winfield, head of Edgewood’s Chamber Singers, to get the ball rolling. Horner and Winfield began meeting in the fall of 2013 to discuss the song list, which included “America the Beautiful,” “We Sing, We Dance,” “Rhythm of Life,” and “Hear My Prayer.”

Soprano Marion Myers-Almquist, a long-time member of the Oak Crest Chorus, was excited at the opportunity to work with the kids.    

“I was impressed at what an exceptionally well-trained group they were,” says Marion. “I encouraged them to follow their dreams and to never stop singing.”

Marion sang her first solo in church at age eight and later attended Peabody Institute. 

“Music has played an important role in my life. I’ve always loved singing and learned to play piano when I was five or six,” says Marion. “It’s something I’ve always enjoyed.” 

Positive impression

The intergenerational experience extended beyond the two-day concert. During the months leading up to the event, chorus members from both groups exchanged written letters about how music has impacted their lives. 

The two groups also had the opportunity to get acquainted in person during a luncheon hosted by Oak Crest before the first concert and later at a reception after the second night of singing.

“The day we read the letters from the residents, the students became intrigued with the life experiences of the choir they were [going] to meet,” says Winfield. “When they finally met, at first everyone was tentative, but by the time we were eating dinner, everyone was talking and having a great time!” 

Group effort

Courtney Alvey was one of six bass vocalists who sang with the Oak Crest Chorus. 

“The concerts went really well,” says Courtney. “I really enjoyed listening to and getting to know some of these kids. They helped us immensely—they were better than we were! It gives you hope that this type of music will survive beyond my generation.” 

In his letter to the Edgewood singers, Courtney wrote about one of his fondest memories: the time he performed at Carnegie Hall with the U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman’s Choir at Columbia University. 

“It was 1946, and our choir sang at the compulsory Sunday afternoon Vesper Services at Riverside Cathedral,” writes Courtney. “The Schola Cantorum of New York, a well-known choral group at the time, was going to present the world premiere of a Cantata by Leo Sowerby, accompanied by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. World War II was at its height, and the Cantorum was short of male voices, so they invited us to join them. It was truly a memorable performance.”

Although it’s not quite the same as performing at Carnegie Hall, this experience will hopefully be a memorable one, Wellington says.

“This was such a wonderful opportunity,” says Wellington. “The students had the experience of performing with an age group they may not regularly encounter. And the Oak Crest chorus members had the chance to connect with teenagers on something they both love—it was a win-win.”   

Winfield says he believes the greatest lesson his students learned is that no matter what your age, music connects all of us. 

“It doesn’t matter if there are considerable age differences; music connects you on a higher level—way beyond the notes and the rhythms. It’s an unspoken feeling that leaves you with so much satisfaction. The memory of that feeling is what they will carry with them for a lifetime.”

You can view their performance of the song “Rhythm of Life” on YouTube: