Livonia Civic Chorus
Directed by Donna Gleason
Accompanied by Rimma Stolbov
Drawing members from Livonia and surrounding communities, the Livonia Civic Chorus represents almost all walks of life, ages and levels of musical training. The members of the Chorus are bound together by a common love for music and find great satisfaction in bringing enjoyment and cheer to the community through song.
The Livonia Civic Chorus performs two major concerts each year, plus some additional appearances at various events in and around the Livonia community. The Chorus is also devoted to sponsoring annual music scholarships to help develop and promote the musical talent of local students, a privilege made possible with the generous support of the Livonia Department of Parks and Recreation, Chorus members, and community friends and patrons.
The desire to contribute something of value to enrich the life of the Livonia community, the desire to enrich our musical talents, and the sheer enjoyment of singing are the qualities that make the Livonia Civic Chorus what it is today.
Livonia Civic Chorus…The First Forty-Five Years…1965-2010
In 1965, at the request of its Pastor, the choir of St. Maurice Church of Livonia was disbanded. The members, however, shared a love of choral music and continued to sing together in their homes. Joyce Winter, a choir member, had heard that the Department of Parks and Recreation of the City of Livonia was considering sponsoring a mixed singing group. She approached John DuFour, then director of the department, with the proposal that the former choir could form the nucleus of this group. He agreed that this could be the start provided that certain regulations were met. Accordingly, a public notice announcing the formation of the group and inviting new members was published. Thus, the Livonia Civic Chorus, as it came to be known, was born.
Then followed the necessary procedures of obtaining an accompanist, writing bylaws, electing officers, and other organizational requirements. We were off and running…
From the outset, the Chorus chose to be more than a stand-up formal choir. In addition to excellence in musical performance, choreography, costumes, and sets were some of the hallmarks of major performances. As time went on, narration, skits, plots, and dialogue were added, along with guest performers: dancers, musicians, and scholarship winners. Our mission was to entertain the audience, enrich the cultural scene of the community, and enjoy the pleasures of performing music with others of like mind.
Over the years, the Chorus has been fortunate to have several directors whose strong leadership and talents have extended over a period of several years. Donna Gleason, our present director, has been leading the Chorus since 2002 and we have blossomed. The Chorus enjoys a loyal membership with some numbering their membership in the decades. Kim Alderman and Kurt Meyer, both with over twenty years of membership, followed in the footsteps of their father, Phil Meyer, a long time member and assistant director. Hank Kanar, the author of this article, is one of the charter members from 1965. Also pleasing is the influx of new members, some young enough to be grandchildren of our more senior members!
The music of the Chorus has ranged from simple unison numbers to challenging, intricate harmonies. Fortunately, the Chorus has a lot of good voices and some truly outstanding ones as well. As Mark Twain remarked, “There is no such thing as bad whiskey, some is just better than others.” This can be said about the voices of the Chorus. But more than vocal talent has been exhibited when costumes, sets, choreography, creative writing, and organizational skills are considered. Artistic talent, creativity and a dedicated work ethic are essential to our continued success.
The Chorus prepares for two main performances each year. We begin the first season in September as we prepare for a winter holiday show to be performed in December. After a short break, the second season begins in mid-January with new musical to prepare focused on a Spring show in May. The musical repertoire covers a wide variety of musical selections and styles, blending both new and traditional music to ensure a little something for everyone. The Livonia Civic Chorus has built a reputation of delighting audiences with entertaining, full-scale musical productions. Shows prove to be a lot of fun for both the Chorus and its audience. Visit our photo gallery of recent performances.
The Chorus also combines efforts with other groups such as the Joyful Ringers, the Classical Bells, the Livonia Youth Choir, and several local dance groups. Performance venues have ranged widely from Livonia High School auditoriums, the Plymouth State Home for children with disabilities, Selfridge Air Force base, Greenfield Village, Greektown, Knights of Columbus, Livonia Spree, and the Marquee Theatre in Northville to name a few. Also included have been “sing-outs” in Adrian, Grayling, Holly, several local malls, Presbyterian Village, the Livonia Christmas Tree Lighting, Greenmead Historical Village, and, most recently, Industry Sings.
The history of the Chorus would not be complete without mention of our scholarship program. The Chorus recognized early on that in addition to providing entertainment for the Livonia community, there was a need to promote music appreciation to young musicians as they begin their careers. Consequently, the Chorus initiated a program to provide scholarships for two-week sessions at the International Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. In 2002, a program to provide one scholarship to a vocal music student at Madonna University in honor of Sr. Mary Francilene VandeVyver was funded by the Chorus. Middle school and high school students can now receive scholarships to the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan, near the Manistee Forest. Chorus scholarship winners have often performed with the Chorus at one of their major concerts.
The Chorus is grateful for the continued support of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the elected officials of the City of Livonia, and our many audiences. We are also appreciative for the financial support provided by the Livonia Town Hall, our patrons, membership, and others throughout the Livonia community. Their contributions are essential to the continuation of the scholarship program and our musical productions.
We look forward to a growing presence in the community, to the continued awarding of scholarships, and to common bonds of the love of music, sharing, and friendship. Come and join us.
LCC Charter Member