Creswell, Scene & Heard

Exercise your vocal chords, brain with Community Singers

Pictured is a scene from one of last year’s performances by Creswell Community Singers. PHOTO PROVIDED

In the Aug. 30 edition regarding Creswell Community Singers, it was incorrectly stated that the Kelleys wrote a song for the proper way to spell their last name. The musician who was the Creslane Choir accompanist, Charleynne Gates, wrote the song. The Chronicle regrets the error and strives for accuracy. See something incorrect? Let us know and we’ll make it right. Email [email protected].

Studies show that as we age, making music opens up a multitude of health benefits.
That includes choir singing, where the body serves as its own instrument.
According to part of the Vitality Arts Special Report, making music improves cognitive health, physical functioning, emotional well-being and social connectedness.
After all, music is one of the only things that exercises both sides of the brain.
Creswell Community Singers would have to agree with those findings as they gear up for their 2018-19 season. Their first rehearsal is on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. at Creswell Church of Christ, 380 Kings Row. The group invites the public to see for themselves.
The choir previously went by the name Creswell at Home Community Choir, until Creswell at Home filed for organization dissolution earlier this year.
Now, the group is called Creswell Community Singers under the umbrella of Creswell First!
With all persons accounted for, there are about 35 singers — a decent-sized group, compared to the seven they started out with.
The group’s first performance was held at Creswell Library in early 2017. In their second season, they performed at the Creswell Veterans’ Day Celebration, the Creswell Tree Lighting Celebration, at Creswell Health and Rehabilitation Center and the Talk about Dying event, as well as a concert at Creswell Church of Christ.
There is not a lot of pressure in the group. There is no requirement or audition to join the choir. There is no membership fee. You won’t get kicked out of the Singers for not coming to a rehearsal, if you are away on vacation or want to take time to travel. You don’t have to know how to read music. No experience is necessary.
Mary Ellen Yost, 73, of Creswell is the choir conductor for the Singers, and said that some choir members have substantial experience in choral music. They know how to read music and how to perform in a choral setting.
“On the other hand, there are some in the choir who are singing with a choir for the first time,” she said.
Sometimes, people will tell Yost that they cannot sing.
“I never believe them,” she said.
All that is necessary to join the Singers is a desire to learn, sing and have a good time.
Tracey Armitage, 41, of Creswell, just joined the Singers last year. She likes the local convenience of the group, especially since she has her hands tied with two kids still at home. She said it’s a great way for her to participate in the community, and it also serves as a fun social hour.
“Tracey’s proof that young people can survive our group,” Yost said, laughing. The group especially encourages singers of all ages.
Audrey Stewart, 91, of Creswell, moved to town three years ago. She’s been singing all her life, and said once she went to one rehearsal, she never turned back.
She especially enjoys that Conductor Yost “really knows her stuff” and doesn’t only conduct, she teaches — and with a smile, nonetheless.
Marge Williamson and Carol Campbell passed the choir baton to Yost in 2016.
Yost’s experience with choral music runs deep.
Her first formal education began at age five in Florida. By high school, Yost was singing in the church choir and attending music camps.
She majored in choral music at Florida State University. After graduating, she worked at a high school with one of the best music programs in the state.
She later moved to Oregon after marrying a local man. Yost was a choir conductor in Klamath Falls, Creswell Presbyterian Church and at Creswell Elementary in the 1990s.
Rick Kelley, 63, of Creswell, retired last year and has been singing in Oregon choirs since fifth grade. Singing is part of his personality; he and his wife, Joan, even wrote a song for the proper way to spell their last name. (That’s “Kelley” with two Es, guys.)
Kelley first got involved with Yost while his kids were involved with her programs at Creslane, so he’s been well-versed in how Yost operates for about 28 years. He said he appreciates how Yost gives direction to choir, and gives reasons why things need to be done a certain way.
The choir can make suggestion as to what music they want to perform. Yost selects music that will be fun and also challenging. They sing a wide selection of music, from show tunes to contemporary, from patriotic to pop.
For more information, contact Yost at 541-510-3355 or Joan Kelley at 541-895-4425.



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