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Life Care, choral communities harmonize

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Some of the nine Tryon Estates residents who signed out their new music and found seats at the first Community Chorus Inc. rehearsal for this year were singing with the chorus, long before moving into the ACTS Retirement Life Community. Those long-time singers now at Tryon Estates (TE) stay alert for newcomers who might sing and they make very sure everyone knows about Community Chorus.

“One woman even offered to pick me up and take me to Tryon each week,” one newbie said. “I went, too.”

“I’ve been singing with the Community Chorus for 18 years,” said resident Audrey Ortiz, “and enjoy every concert. Before moving into TE in 2013, I had always admired the way the residents participated in community activities and volunteer opportunities. I’m pleased to be part of that now.”

Over the last 40 years, this chorus has contributed more than musical opportunities to the greater community. In cooperation with the Tryon Rotary Club, the Community Chorus concerts raise money to provide college scholarships for local high school students.

During its 20 years in Columbus, TE has offered ageing area residents the option of a safe new home retaining all the social benefits of the old one, but with no maintenance or future long term care headaches. As well, Tryon Estates has brought voices of people from distant places to add to the chorus and to enrich the entire community experience.

Soprano Inge-Maj Danforth was raised in Sweden, though she lived in Washington D.C. for most of her adult life. This is her second year with the community chorus. Asked to tell something about herself, she reported, “Living at Tryon Estates for nearly two years has caused me to forget how to soft boil an egg! It took 5 eggs before I got it right – I’m not sure if this is amusing or really sad. Anyway, now I go down to breakfast if I want an egg.” Beyond that, Danforth routinely transports residents who balk at night driving to and from weekly rehearsals.

Another TE resident, also a long-time and very active member of the Community Chorus is Fran Creasy. Born in North Carolina, where her mother was the first female band director in the state, Creasy said her whole family was musical. She ‘came home’ with her husband Al, to North Carolina after 35 years in Illinois. She joined the Community Chorus in 1998, coming to Tryon Estates in 2012.

In 1997, Stan and Jean Howell moved in at TE and also began their long Community Chorus joint career. Having met at Temple University, singing in the a’ capella choir, they married in 1950. Both attained 16 consecutive years of singing in the chorus, until Jean suffered a fall this year, putting an end to her musical plans for now. Music remains very important to both of them; while Jean works at recuperating, Stan sings on – for both himself and for his wife.

Audrey Ortiz, who, of all Tryon Estates residents currently singing, has been a chorus member longest, said, “When we first moved to Tryon in 1994, a neighbor who was a Rotarian gave us tickets to the Community Chorus Christmas Concert. I went, enjoyed it and wanted to be part of it. I still enjoy it.”

The new TE resident who accepted a ride to chorus, and joined that same night said, “Sharing music touches the makers and the listeners. The meaning of community expands as communities within communities make new connections right here in Polk County. We find, singing side by side, living truth in the final song in our Community Chorus Spring Concert, ‘No one stands alone; Draw the Circle, Draw the Circle Wide’.”

– article submitted 

by Janice Weigand