December 2015                                                                 Vol. 6       

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Birthdays and Quotable Quotes
Ludwig van Beethoven, b.12/17/1770 - "I like your opera...I think I will set it to music."

Michael Tilson Thomas, b. 12/21/1944 - "Conductors are performers."

Giacomo Puccini,
b. 12/22/1858 - "Art is a kind of illness."

RCS caroling on the streets of Lexington

Musical Happenings

12/19 and 12/20 (2 PM only) Romeo and Juliet/Holiday Dance Celebration
2 PM and 6:30 PM Rockbridge Ballet, Lenfest Center, W&L

1/3/2016 The Sinatra Century with Jim Cruso and Billy Stritch
7:30 PM Keller Theatre, Lenfest Center, W&L
New Take on an Old Favorite

          If you think you know that old carol, Good King Wenceslas, think again. Earlier this month the RCS and the Youth Chorale ended our holiday concert with this Christmas favorite in a new arrangement composed by one of our extended choral family, Emerson Sieverts. Emerson is the son of our beloved alto/mezzo soprano soloist, Barbara Hollinshead, and the proverbial

Emerson Sieverts
apple has fallen straight under that musical tree! Emerson is a 2015 graduate with a bachelor's degree inmusic from the College of William and Mary. He composes, sings and has performed from a very young age in the DC area where he grew up, and has sung with the RCS as well. We were excited to have the opportunity to perform this new version of an old favorite! Keep your eye on Emerson Sieverts. Before graduation, he co-created a musical stage production, Me Prometheus, with original score. It was a hit . Learn more here:

Happy Holidays!

         Our annual holiday concert on December 5, which this year combined the efforts of the RCS and the divisions of the Rockbridge Youth Chorale (RYC) was a hit! This offering is
always a chorus and community favorite and, through ticket sales, helps us raise a portion of our season's production costs each year. It is always well attended and this year was no exception. The sanctuary at the Lexington Presbyterian Church, always our gracious host, was packed! It was great fun to watch our audience get up, move around, and relocate to catch a glimpse of the young singers.  Everyone - choruses and audience - sang and celebrated the season in music. We hope to have the youth chorale join us again in seasons to come. Thanks to all who joined us!
Merry! Merry!

Photo by Kevin Remington 
Fundraising Update!
          Good friends make great music, and our donors are good friends indeed! Thanks to your generosity, we have raised over $15,000 toward establishing our first endowed orchestra position - the Evelyn Pankey McCorkle Concertmaster Chair. We are just $5000 away from our goal of $20,000 to put this endowment into place. The interest this fund earns each year will help us to permanently underwrite this critical orchestra position. The Friends board of directors and the RCS are supremely grateful to our donors, at all levels, for your continued support of our musical endeavors in the Rockbridge community. For information on all our fundraising programs, contact Anne Hansen, 540-463-7961.

Giving Just Got Easier!

          Can't find your check book? Don't own a check book? No problem. You can now make your donation by credit card through our website You can even spread out your contribution by making a monthly installment payment! Way cool!

RCS 40 th Anniversary Season,
part 2, The Early Years

        The 70's and 80's could be thought of as the formative years for the Rockbridge Chorus, aka Rockbridge Choral Society. Concerts were held jointly with the
Gordon Spice
Rockbridge Orchestra in various venues including Jackson Memorial Hall at VMI and the Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of W&L University. Community outreach included concerts given at all the area high schools. Programs often featured compositions chosen by the chorus members and pops concerts were frequent. On occasion, drinks and finger food were served to audiences seated at tables where the place mats doubled as programs. The chorus and orchestra held
Organist William McCorkle and trumpeter Walter Chesnut.  Chesnut was a frequent soloist with the Rockbridge Chorus and the Rockbridge Orchestra in the 1970s and early 80s.
post-concert parties in the lobby of the old United Virginia Bank building. Sounds like a fun group!
         Through the years, the chorus had several artistic directors including Gordon Spice, who began at the beginning in 1975. Michael Henry, music minister at Manly Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, took the director's reins in 1979, and William McCorkle, our current artistic director, served as associate conductor and accompanist. In 1983, Dr. Spice returned as director and held the baton until 1987, when McCorkle returned to conduct the group's first full-length masterwork in many years, Handel's Israel in Egypt . He remains our artistic director.
         The chorus and the orchestra, by now known as the University-Rockbridge Symphony, continued to collaborate into the early 1990's until the orchestra came under the sole sponsorship of Washington and Lee University. Since that time, for each performance season, the chorus has recruited and employed orchestra players from throughout Virginia to accompany its chamber concerts and its master choral works offerings. Sometimes big, sometimes small, our orchestras are always superb and never disappoint!
          During the late 80's and early 90's the Rockbridge Youth Chorale had its beginning as did a chamber group formed from the larger chorus. In 1992, the Rockbridge Chamber Singers, now an auditioned group, came into being and its members, which change with repertoire and availability, continue to contribute to most of our performance seasons.
Next time - The Friends Era
Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society | |

Rockbridge Choral Society
PO Box 965
Lexington, VA 24450