Putnam County Festival Choir returns, rehearsals begin Oct. 22

Monday, October 14, 2019
Vocalist Chris Wurster (right), one of the Festival Choir’s original members, looks forward to joining choral director Eric Schmidt when he leads the newly re-formed ensemble in its first rehearsal on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Green Center.
Courtesy Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau

After 17 years, the DePauw School of Music, Greencastle Arts Council and the Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau are excited to bring back the Putnam County Festival Choir, a community-wide collaboration that will bring together students and residents throughout the county through singing music.

Rehearsals will be held weekly on Tuesday evenings from 7:30–9 p.m. each semester, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 22 in Room 1115 of the Green Center for the Performing Arts, located at 600 S. Locust St. on DePauw’s campus.

A sponsored project of the Greencastle Arts Council, no membership fees or auditions are necessary. People of all ages — and from all corners of Putnam County — who like to sing are welcome to join. Members of local church choirs or theatrical groups who wish to enhance their vocal skills may also take advantage of this weekly music instruction at no cost.

Founded in 1971 by former Director of Choirs Graeme Cowen, this community ensemble joined the student choirs for significant performances, such as the annual choir-orchestra concert at the end of each spring semester.

The choir’s last performance was Brahms’ “Ein deutsches Requiem” in May of 2002. Its next performance is scheduled for the DePauw School of Music’s ninth-annual Holiday Gala on Dec. 7-8 under the direction of current choral director Eric Schmidt.

“As a conductor, to me, of course, the music is at the heart of every choir,” Schmidt said. “But beyond that, choral singing is something that goes to the very heart of our humanity and to our sense of community. When you sing, you express your soul in song. And when you get together with a group of other singers it becomes more than the sum of the parts.

“The idea of setting aside life’s differences and literally speaking with one’s voice in perfect harmony is implemented through a choir in a powerful way,” he added. “Music has a unique potential to bridge borders and to bring people together. With this group, I would like to invite residents of Putnam County to share the stage with our students at DePauw to experience the power of making music together.”

Bass-baritone Chris Wuster, a member of the choir in its earlier incarnation, plans to return.

“I enjoyed performing with the students. Being surrounded by all that young talent while singing and performing is exhilarating, inspiring and rejuvenating. I greatly appreciate Dr. Schmidt’s willingness to direct this community choir.”

“One of the beauties of choral singing is that participation doesn’t require a big investment in an expensive instrument in order to begin,” Putnam County Arts and Culture Director and Greencastle Arts Council member Suzanne Hassler noted. “Everyone has a voice, and every voice deserves to be heard.”

Those interested in participating in the choir may contact Eric Schmidt via email at ericschmidt@depauw.edu.

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