Three decades of song and community will be marked this weekend when the 75 member-strong Vashon Island Chorale takes the stage for “A Choral Celebration: Commemorating 30 Years,” presented at Vashon Center for the Arts.
The gala concerts, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at VCA’s Kay White Hall, will be accompanied by pianist Linda Lee and a 24-piece orchestra under the direction of Gary D. Cannon.
The program will include beloved classics by Bernstein, Copland and Fauré, as well as Vaughan Williams’s “Serenade to Music” and Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dance.” Local composers Eric Lane Barnes and Buzz Brusletten, plus a quartet of talented local soloists, will add to the festivities. And in a nod to the chorale’s efforts to foster the next generation of singers, members of the Vashon Youth Chorus, under the direction of Julie Kangas, will also join the ensemble in song.
In its 30 years, the chorale has become a beloved community institution, but it all began in 1989, with the formation of a group called Island Singers. The chorale’s name was officially changed in the mid-1990s.
At least 350 singers have sung with the chorale at one time or another, according to Jo Ann Bardeen, who has been a member of the group since 1991 and its president since 2007.
Founders of the choir, Susan Hedrick and Judy Whitney, are still members, she said. In all, Bardeen has counted 72 chorale concerts, which for many years were held at island churches. Additionally, the chorale has sung at Ober Park, all the Vashon public schools (with the exception of the new high school), Open Space for Arts & Community and the Vashon Theater. In addition to formal concerts, there have been sing-alongs to Handel’s “Messiah,” Strawberry Festival gigs, summer concerts in the park, New Year’s Eve concerts and two 9/11 memorial concerts. Twice, the chorale has jumped the pond to sing in concerts at Benaroya Hall, in Seattle, with other choral groups.
In 2016, the chorale stepped onto its dream stage at the new Vashon Center for the Arts. The building of the arts center was made possible largely through the generosity of the building’s lead donor, Kay White, who died in 2017.
White first made an unsolicited approach to Vashon Allied Arts, as VCA was formerly called, in 2007, to let officials there know she wanted to help get a new theater built on Vashon. Her impulse, Bardeen said, was simple — it came directly from her involvement in Vashon Island Chorale and her desire for the ensemble to sing on a proper stage.
This weekend, the Chorale will raise their voices on the stage of VCA’s Kay White Hall, named in her honor.
“It’s such magic that we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary in what was designed to be our home by Kay White,” Bardeen said. “Her spirit will be there.”
For more information and advance tickets to “A Choral Celebration: Commemorating 30 Years,” visit vashoncenterforthearts.org.