Sunday, March 25, 2012

Forty Years of Favorites: "We Sang for Joy"

The year was 1972.

Apollo 16, the tenth manned mission to the moon launched that April.

Atari released the smash hit video game: "Pong."

And a group of people who had gathered to provide the vocal entertainment for the annual dinner of the Green Valleys Association had so much fun, they decided they would like to keep doing it.

And 40 years later, they still are.

Valerie Showers Crescenz
Now known as The Coventry Singers, the group will celebrate its 40th anniversary at 3 p.m. on April 22 with a concert featuring an original work, "We Sang for Joy," commissioned by the critically acclaimed composer Valerie Showers Crescenz.

The concert will be held at Cedarville United Methodist Church, 1092 Laurelwood Road in North Coventry.

The Coventry Singers perform at Cedarville United Methodist Church 
in North Coventry in their Spring 2010 concert. 
This year is the group's  40th anniversary.
This year’s concert also features Schubert’s Mass in G, Thompson’s Alleluia, Wilhousky’s arrangement of Battle Hymn of the Republic, You are the New Day, made famous by the King’s Singers, and choir favorite River in Judea, among others.

Also making this spring's concert extra special will be the appearance of former directors and singers.

"Our past directors Joe Hoover and Cheryl Markofski will be joining our current director, Julie Eurillo in directing the choir," Trinda Garner, a member of the group's board of directors, wrote in an e-mail to The Digital Notebook's correspondence staff after reading about other arts-related events in the Pottstown area.

The Coventry Singers at their 2011 Christmas Concert
"Also we are inviting any past Coventry Singers member to come back to join us for one number," she wrote.

"We are looking for anyone who has ever sung with the Coventry Singers anytime in the last 40 years to join us again for this concert. We are trying to contact former members to have them join us for one song in the concert. If you are a former member and would like to participate in this memorable event, please get in contact with us. You can reach us through Facebook at Coventry Singers, via email at, drop us a note at PO Box 1, Pottstown, PA 19464, or contact any current member," Garner wrote.

(Below is video from the 2011 Christmas Concert: "I Saw Three Ships")

In case you haven't figured it out yet, the Coventry Singers is an audition choir that performs Christmas and spring concerts each year free of charge.

The entire enterprise began in 1972, when a small group of singers assembled to provide entertainment for the Green Valley’s Association banquet.

Afterwards, when the group expressed interest to continue singing together, they found themselves without a leader. One of those singers was Joseph Hoover who agreed to take on the conductor’s role with Corinne Griffiths as the accompanist. Together a group of 19 eager singers officially became the Coventry Singers and gave their first Christmas concert at French Creek Elementary School offering Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.

All this according to the group's web site.

(Below, the Coventry Singers perform "Jingle Bells" at the 2011 Christmas Concert)

As the group became more well-known to the area, so did their requests for performances. Membership grew to 55 and entrance to the group was by audition. Many members were professionally trained and came to the organization with choral singing experience.

But it was the leadership and professional musical background of Joseph Hoover that guided the group for over 30 years of performing concerts to devoted audiences in the area.

Some of the highlights include: Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Pottstown Symphony Orchestra; Resphigi’s Laud to the Nativity with the Schuylkill Valley Dance Company; the 10th Anniversary Year Handel’s Messiah with the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra; Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at First Federal Bank; A Tribute to Romberg as part of the Pottstown Civic Concert Series’ as well as appearances at Reading’s Byndenwood Festival and Longwood Gardens’ Christmas Concert Series.

In the spring of 1994, Mr. Hoover retired the conductor’s baton.

After a six year hiatus, the group eagerly, both original and new members, reassembled under the leadership of Cheryl Markofski whose professional training, education, and reputation has brought the group back to those full-house audiences that the group enjoyed for many years.

As is often the case, something shiny and new can seem more attractive than something with which you have long been familiar.

So while we are wise to welcome all the new arts ventures coming to Pottstown, a 40-year anniversary can remind us to treasure those things that have a demonstrated value and tradition in our community.

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