Home / News / St. in Orland Park Choir celebrating 50 years of music making and friendships at St. Michael’s

St. in Orland Park Choir celebrating 50 years of music making and friendships at St. Michael’s

Marilyn Bara and St. Paul in Orland Park. Some members at St. Michael’s Church saw how well the congregation’s children’s choir was doing, and adults wanted to join in, too.

This was in 1972. They were hitting the road and singing in 1973. But it wasn’t easy.

“We didn’t have money for music, so we held fundraisers,” Bara said. “We ate spaghetti at church to pay for the music.”

After 50 years, thousands of performances, several spaghetti dinners and too many songs to count, the choir still sings and inspires. The group was recently recognized by the church for its half-century of service.

Bara, 76, didn’t know the choir would last this long. Although there are other members of the group who have been performing for a long time, Bara is the only member who has been in the choir for 50 years.

“In addition to the music, I also love the friendships we have made,” he said. “Not just the camaraderie with the choir, but the camaraderie with the people who come to services or concerts. “I think they always enjoy us.”

More pleasure is on the way.

Bara’s band is in St. Petersburg this weekend. He will join his colleagues for two Holiday Harmonies performances at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The first is Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at 14327 Highland Ave. in Orland Park. at St. Michael will too. The next day, the show was at St. Paul’s at 15050 Wolf Road in Orland Park. It is being moved to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

The choirs will be supported by the Southwestern Symphony Orchestra.

This is a special event that happens every few years and this year will be unique due to the retirement of SSO Director David Crane. Crane chooses the music and not something simple like “Jingle Bells.” Intricate tracks like “Christmas Carol Extravaganza” and “See Through the Winter Snow” will be part of the set list.

Gail Nonaka, a 48-year member of the choir, said the songs may not be easy, but she is happy to sing in front of the symphony.

“This year is a really challenging year,” he said. “We have two pieces that are really difficult for us. But getting through that is very rewarding. The symphony makes you feel much more important than you are.”

Nonaka, 73, brings a different sound to the band compared to 48 years ago.

“I actually started as a soprano, but in this choir I’m a tenor because I lost a few of my upper notes,” Nonaka said. “I was going to quit completely, and (chorus director Gary Patin) convinced me to try a different role.

“I switched to tenor because I always loved the tenor voice. “I think this is the hardest part, but also the most interesting part to sing.”

The husband-and-wife team of Larry (age 80) and Jerilyn (81) Koskan joined the choir more than 40 years ago, but Jerilyn had to leave the choir in recent years because her poor eyesight did not allow her to read the music.

One of her standout moments over the years was meeting James Moore, who wrote the song “I Will Be With You,” which became a part of the choir’s repertoire over the years.

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“Not only did we meet the composer, but we also practiced with him,” he said.

Larry said being in the choir means more than just singing to the crowd.

“It has become a part of our lives,” he said. “There is not only the singing part of the choir, but also sharing with the congregation.

“But the choir is also a social part of what we do. “There is a spirit of togetherness, camaraderie and camaraderie that you develop with your choir members.”

He said he was looking forward to training and a night away from home with friends.

“First of all, there is a social element,” Larry said. “Over the years, we started to love each other. We also do other things with each other. We have parties and meetings. “It was great.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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