Four Decades of Musical Excellence
Music. Camaraderie. Fun. These are just a few of the adjectives used to describe the experience those involved with the Garrett Choral Society enjoy…both those that go to listen to their lovely concerts, and those that perform in them.
For more than 40 years, the Garrett Choral Society has been performing music of all varieties for their fans and followers. Founded in 1977 under the direction of Nancy K. Learey, the talented and diverse group presents two major concerts per year, one at Christmas time and their upcoming Spring Concert, slated for Saturday, May 16th at 7 PM and Sunday, May 17th at 3 PM.
The Choral Society is comprised of about 40 adults of all ages from around the county. They do not hold auditions; all voices are welcome in this lively group. According to singer and Board Member Lindy Moebs they’ve had participants that don’t even read music…but she does stress that dedication to learning the part is needed. “We sing in unison, 2-part, 4-part, up to 8-part arrangements, and our concerts are full of surprises,” explains Lindy. “We simulated a rainstorm last spring, used kazoos at our Christmas concert, and this spring will feature fun, crazy animal songs.”
The Choral Society is currently led by Directors Sean and Debi Beachy of Grantsville. Debi is a West Virginia native who attended Alderson Broaddus University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education with an emphasis in piano. In 2006, she earned a master’s degree in music education with an emphasis in choral conducting from West Virginia University. She is a music teacher in Garrett County, currently teaching elementary music at Accident and Friendsville elementary schools. Debi also serves as choral director for Garrett College’s Mountain Maryland Music Institute.
Sean Beachy is a native of Garrett County. After graduating from Northern High, he also attended Alderson Broaddus University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in applied piano. He also completed a Master of Music degree from Shenandoah Conservatory and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from West Virginia University. Dr. Beachy has had pieces premiered and performed throughout the United States and Italy. Dr. Beachy is currently adjunct instructor of music at Garrett College. In addition to teaching music classes, he teaches private piano and composition lessons through Garrett’s Department of Continuing Education and is director of the Mountain Maryland Music Institute. He also serves as music director for FSU’s Roundabout Theatre.
As a couple, the Beachys have been performing both as a four-hand piano duo and as a vocal piano duo for over 20 years, beginning while attending college. The couple has also worked as a director/accompanist collaborative team for the past 18 years in both school and church settings. After spending 14 years as the music directors at Frostburg United Methodist Church, they currently serve as choir director, organist, and handbell director at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Oakland.
“Being directed by these two is like getting free voice lessons,” says Lindy. “We have so much fun as a group, but we also gain musical skill and knowledge.” Members of the choral society change from season to season as schedules allow although many have been performing regularly for years.
Although classical music was their main staple in the beginning, over the years the choral society has performed Broadway showtunes as well as modern and traditional programs. The Beachys are only the fourth directors of the society. After Nancy Learey retired, Julie Turrentine directed them for several years bringing a new aspect to their music. They were also conducted by Jim Tong. Each director has brought their own take on the music the group has performed, says Lindy.
The Spring Concert, to be held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Oakland will feature Psalms, Spirituals, Traditional Ballads, and Poetry. One of the concert “surprises” this time is a song called “Animal Crackers” which consists of six poems by Ogden Nash set to music by Eric Whitacre about a panther, cow, firefly, canary, eel and kangaroo. Nash was a prolific writer of humorous and rhyming poems who lived much of his life in Baltimore. Animal Crackers is a very fun and unusual piece that audience members are sure to enjoy.
Tickets for the concert will be $12 for adults, $5 for students, with no charge for those five and under. They can be purchased from choral society members, at the Garrett Arts Council Gallery Shop, and will also be available at the door prior to each performance.
Garrett Choral Society is a private organization supported solely by ticket sales and donations. There is a small fee to participate in the choral society but singers of all singing abilities and ages are welcome. They generally rehearse nine weeks prior to each of the concerts on Sunday afternoons. For updates on joining or rehearsal & performance schedules, please see the Garrett Choral Society Facebook page or contact Lindy at 301-895-5510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.