From Our Director -
for the Fortieth
On Sunday, April 24 at 7 PM in Wilson Hall at Washington and Lee University, the Rockbridge Choral Society will present Felix Mendelssohn's brilliant oratorio, Elijah. A splendid orchestra of 30 players, led by concertmaster, Joan Griffing, will join 70 singers and four soloists for this masterwork. Our frequent guest soloist, baritone Keith Spencer, will join us again as will soprano soloist, Christine Fairfield. We will welcome, for the first time, tenor Eric Hansen, our new colleague in music at Southern Virginia University, and mezzo-soprano, Toby Newman of Opera Roanoke fame. Together, we will bring to life Mendelssohn's magnificent setting of one of the great Old Testament stories. Elijah has special significance for us as we mark the 40
th anniversary of the Rockbridge Chorus, now the Rockbridge Choral Society. It was the first full length masterwork performed by the Choral Society in 1976, and we are happy to bring it to you again. Please, join us. This is truly music for the soul.
Fortieth Anniversary History - The Birth of the Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society (FRCS)
From its beginnings as a community chorus in 1976, the Choral Society had ambitions and talents that often outstripped is funding. Collaborations with Washington and Lee choral groups afforded occasional opportunities to participate in more extravagant programs like two standing-room-only performances of Carl Orrf's Carmina Burana in 1998. But, it soon became apparent that the chorus was out-growing the funding it's principle source, Fine Arts in Rockbridge, aka, FAIR, could provide. This and monies collected from ticket sales and tuition paid by the singers each season weren't enough. So, in 1999, the Friends of the RCS was formed to meet the challenge. In its first year, the Friends raised over $16,000 and funneled this windfall through FAIR. As a result, the RCS was able to launch this new era with Joseph Haydn's Creation in the spring of 2001.
For all our masterworks offerings, dependable orchestra players and talented soloists are integral to performance success, and their much-deserved remuneration is a significant chunk of the budget for each performance season. Over the years, the drive to fund these players and singers has perhaps been the Friends greatest contribution to the success of the RCS and its offspring - the Rockbridge Youth Chorale and Youth Choirs, and the Rockbridge Chamber Singers. In 2010, the Choral Society became independent of FAIR and the Friends became the sole support for funding and administration for the RCS and all its related choruses. Over the last 17 years, with the support of the Friends and its generous donor-friends, the choruses have been able to present more major choral works than possible to mention here. The youth choruses have grown in number and section in the last decade, and these choruses have been bolstered by the addition of two new directors. The Friends has been most fortunate in its fund-raising efforts to support all the pieces that come together each performance season - our directors, soloists, orchestra players, and our musical scores. The generosity of many individual and corporate sponsors and donors, or Friends, if you will, has helped the choruses bring a varied repertoire of great choral music to the local community. Choral music is alive and well here. The Friends is grateful for every gift which helps to enrich the lives of singers and listeners alike.