Choral Society: 35 Years

Choral Society: 35 Years

Members look back on an evolving organization.

Change is good, however it is disruptive. Members of the Alexandria Choral Society (ACS) know this well. Last year, board members spent several months finding a new artistic director to replace Keith Reas who had served as director for several years.

The board was delighted when Philip Cave, director of music at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Alexandria, agreed to become the director.

“As a singer, I love it. Rehearsals are fun with Philip — he’s a world renowned soloist. Philip brings a different dimension as a singer,” said Reid Adler, who has been singing with the group for the past four years, and currently serves as board president.

The group will wrap up their first season with Cave when they perform a special Mother’s Day concert this weekend at Fairlington United Methodist Church.

Another major milestone will occur at the end of the season when Trish Waters steps down as manager of the group. For the past five years, Waters has been the spokesperson of the group, proclaiming their merits and getting the word out about their events.

“I feel like the organization is in a healthy state and can handle the change — our new artistic director, Philip Cave, and our new board president, Reid Adler, both will have led the group for a full season by then,” Waters said.

ACS board members are currently interviewing applicants to replace Waters, and Adler said, “It’s amazing the hats she [Trish] wears,” Adler said. “She’s the manager, singer, section leader and a generous supporter. We’ve evolved and grown to a point where we need a manager to take us to the next level.”

Waters is not leaving the group; and is using her retirement, coupled with her 50th birthday, as an occasion to raise money for the organization.

Instead of birthday gifts, she is asking friends and acquaintances to donate money to the choral society.

“In the past, we’ve raised a fair amount by offering up others’ birthdays in this same way,” Waters said.

FORMED IN 1970 as a component of the Performing Arts Association of Alexandria, ACS separated from that organization and incorporated on July 10, 1978, becoming its own entity.

In addition to Reas, past music directors have included Francisco de Araujo, Martin Piecuch, Robert Shafer, Douglas Major and Kerry Krebill.

Shafer was the director when Robert Pritzker joined the group. This was 28 years ago, and he has been with the group longer than any other member. As such, he has seen the group evolve and this is the fifth director that he has sung with.

“Each of our directors has been a good teacher, yet each one has a different focus,” Pritzker said. “I like our new director because he is a widely acclaimed performer, and it is joy learning from him. He has a distinctive style, focusing on the total sound of work — what we put into it and the style of the work itself.”

Pritzker said that when he first joined ACS, he was a backseat singer, came to sing and was not involved. Over the years, however, he has become more involved, serving as board president for the past five years; he is back as a board member after a short absence. He and other board members, believe that hiring Cave is an opportunity to step upward in artistic quality. He would like to see the artistic quality of the group remain high and improve. The board is currently organizing creative and relevant civic projects for the community that will generate funding for the program.

A few years ago, Prizker started offering a family holiday concert in December. Five years ago, the ACS Children's Chorus was formed; it is directed by Kevin Carr.

Pritzker thinks that ACS has a very bright future, and said, “I personally enjoy being a part of group singing when it comes out at the end as a beautiful product.”