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Making Beautiful Music Together

Vienna Choral Society to host upcoming March concert.

Even though it was a dress rehearsal that Maureen Fitzgerald walked into, the choristers of the Vienna Choral Society still welcomed her into their fold. A community chorus in existence for over a decade, the choral society has an open-door policy where members do not have to audition to participate.

"I really liked what I was hearing," said Fitzgerald, a Centreville resident, who joined the Vienna Choral Society last October. She hadn't sung in a choir for a long time. "And there was a lot of camaraderie."

The Vienna Choral Society will hosts its March concert on Saturday, March 20, at the Vienna Baptist Church. The chorus will sing Bruckner's "Te Deum" and Dvorak's "Te Deum."

Although many of its members hail from Vienna, the Vienna Choral Society draws from the surrounding areas of Falls Church, Fairfax and Centreville.

"When people hear our concerts, they're pleasantly surprised by the quality," said Robert Leggett of Great Falls, the choral society's director. "We're an unknown resource in the area."

THE CHORAL SOCIETY has been in existence since 1987. Some choristers have sung with the choral society for years, while others come in for a particular concert or choral piece.

"There's a stable core that is there all the time. You develop friendships with those people," said Vienna Choral Society president Larry Mendenhall of Falls Church, a baritone, who has sung with the chorus for over 12 years.

Another chorister, Vienna resident Raine Gilbert, has sung with the chorus since 1990. A friend with whom he had sung when he was in Germany invited him to join.

"The repertoire is eclectic. The sacred music perhaps provides the greatest staple," Gilbert said. "I personally love the German composers because they have those beautiful harmonies, like the Russians."

Gilbert, who couldn't read music when he joined the choral society, likes singing because of the sound that can be created by voices in harmony.

It's "being part of something that's beautiful and harmonious," said Gilbert, a bass.

He also liked the community aspect within the group.

"The people are just fun. They have a love of the music, but they also have a love of each other's company. It's a social event of the week for me — seeing friends and kidding around," Gilbert said.

Other members enjoy the scope of music that the choral society performs. Besides sacred music, the chorus has performed Gilbert and Sullivan and pieces by lesser-known composers.

"We sing really nice music, good music. Sometimes difficult, but stimulating to work on," said Kappy Vorona of Falls Church, a chorister for three years.

Leggett agreed. "We sort of mix up a lot more than what you would typically hear," he said.

"My view is it's no fun singing bad music. It's no fun singing good music poorly. And it's no fun singing to an empty house," Leggett said.