The Great Rivers Choral Society’s upcoming 15th season means one thing to the Alton area: free music has never sounded so good.
Spread out over the remainder of 2015 and the spring of 2016, the 15th season of GRCS performances will feature American spirituals, holiday music from around the world, and last but certainly not least, the Beatles.
“I think we all hoped that the group would be as successful as it is and continue for a long time, but it’s not common for any nonprofit arts organizations to be as stable as we have been,” GRCS Musical Director Ron Abraham said.
Abraham, who has been involved in the group for 10 of its 15 years, says the group’s success is partially due to “a wonderful board of directors” that handles the GRCS’ business matters, but certainly the singers themselves contribute a great deal of time and effort to the group’s longevity.
The GRCS is composed of more than 40 performers, coming from Madison and Jersey counties as well as the St. Louis area, and ranging in age from their 20s to more “seasoned singers,” Abraham said.
“We practice on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 until 9 at the Evangelical United Church of Christ in Godfrey,” he said. “They have been kind enough to provide us with practice space for several years.”
The public will soon get its first chance to hear how the hours of practice have paid off; the season’s first concerts, focusing on American spirituals, will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, both at Ss. Peter and Paul Church, 717 State St. in Alton. According to Abraham, the GRCS is “very happy” to feature special performing guests the St. James the Greater Baptist Church Choir, which will be on hand to help them bring a selection of American spirituals to life.
Next up is the Christmas concert series, “Let the Season In!” These performances will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, both at the First United Methodist Church, 1100 Airport Road in Godfrey. But don’t expect just the usual Christmas carols: Abraham said this season’s holiday concert “will feature some of the most popular holiday music from Europe and around the world.”
Finally, the spring concert, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” is — of course! — a tribute to the Beatles. Young and old audience members alike will enjoy a selection of their favorite Beatles tunes at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 30, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1, this time at Zion Lutheran Church, 625 Church Drive in Bethalto.
“All of our concerts are free and open to the public,” Abraham said. “We do take a free will offering during the concert to help cover our operating expenses.”
Abraham hopes to see some new faces in the audience for the GRCS’ 15th year of concerts.
“Probably the most important thing for us is just to encourage people to try our concerts if they have never attended before,” the musical director said. “These are programs that are enjoyable for everyone, no matter their musical tastes.”
Reflecting on the group’s long years together, Abraham said proudly, “Our mission statement is to provide quality choral music to a broad community and singing opportunities for all interested singers regardless of experience. I think we have fulfilled that mission pretty well.”
For readers who want to move their singing careers out of the shower and onto the stage, there’s good news: Abraham says the Great Rivers Choral Society is “always happy to include new singers in our group, no matter what their singing background may be.”
Interested parties can contact Abraham via the group’s website, www.grcs-sing.org, or by calling Abraham at (618) 917-0042.