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St. Augustine Community Chorus Contributes to the Musical Life of the City

By S. Mathur

Membership of the St. Augustine Community Chorus is open to all who enjoy singing sacred and secular choral music. President Ted Johnson explains that "The St. Augustine Community Chorus was founded in 1948 to provide an opportunity to all singers in the area to perform some of the greatest selections from the choral repertoire. Membership is open to anyone without auditions, who can sing in a large choral setting.

Though there are other choruses locally, they require an invitation or an audition, and our founders believed in providing an opportunity for all those who enjoy singing sacred and secular choral music. Many residents of St. Augustine come here by choice later in life and bring a love of singing and community participation for which our chorus provides an outlet."

The Chorus produces three major performances each year, but new members are welcome throughout the year. Singers can join by just attending a rehearsal. Rehearsals are held every Tuesday evening. Membership dues help to meet concert expenses, and members receive the music for the next upcoming performance. The non-profit relies on tickets sales and donations for funding.

Johnson believes that the chorus contributes to the distinctive life of the community: "Saint Augustine enjoys a unique position as America's oldest city and nourishes a vibrant artistic community, and our chorus contributes greatly to the musical life of the city. We also have, under our wing, a Youth Chorus, which has grown in popularity. Because it performs from memory both with the full chorus and in additional concerts of its own, it does require auditions."

The St. Augustine Youth Chorus has 25 singers between the ages of 8 and 18, chosen through auditions. It gives young singers the experience of learning and performing high quality music literature. Their musical education includes vocal techniques, music note reading, and learning about the music. The Chorus sings a variety of music: art songs, folk songs, spirituals, and "just fun" songs; and performs with the St. Augustine Community Chorus and First Coast Opera, and at Disney World and Sea World.

The performance of Handel's Messiah every holiday season has become a St. Augustine tradition. Through the year, the Chorus performs music from favorite composers as well as the classics.

"The Community Chorus produces three concert performances a year, which are very well attended both by local citizens and by visitors drawn to the city by its history and vibrant cultural activities. Our Christmas concert features excerpts from Handel's Messiah plus various other seasonal favorites. In March, our Pops concert includes many selections from the great American songbook and many Broadway hits, and our May concert, featuring major choral works. Our chorus continues to grow, with a new director and many new members, and we look forward to sharing our love of choral singing with our community."

The new musical director of the St. Augustine Community Chorus is Michael Sanflippo, who was appointed in 2015.

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