Tillsonburg Senior Centre Singers are celebrating their 20th Anniversary on Friday, November 14th, directed by Rachel Parker and managed by Jack Parker, with their 20th Christmas Concert at the Tillsonburg Community Centre.
The 'Singers' started in 1995 as an Alto Soprano Tenor Bass (SATB) Choir with about a dozen singers at the Senior Centre. Tenor Doug Kamps asked Rachel to be the Director, and her 'hubby' Jack became the manager and stage crew supervisor, both volunteer jobs.
"Little did we know that 20 years later we would still be in these positions," said Rachel.
As Director, Rachel decided to have hymns, Broadway musical numbers, contemporary pieces, Gospel tunes, etc. in the Senior Centre Singers repertoire.
By 1997, they numbered 35 singers and chose 'black and white' outfits to perform. At the 1999 Christmas Concert, they numbered 50 members, and now in 2014, the group has 70-plus people.
"Jack is the Wind Beneath My Wings – we work together as a team," said Rachel.
For many years the group has held two large concerts each year in the Lions Auditorium, a Christmas Concert in November, and a Spring Concert in May.
"Usually we have a full house," Rachel noted.
Often their daughter Stephanie has attended and sang for the audience.
"Our favourite is 'O Holy Night' at Christmas concerts," said Rachel, adding that 2014 marks the final Christmas Concert.
"This concert is our last Christmas Concert and there will be no Spring Concert... no more concerts by this team – Rachel and Jack Parker."
Senior Centre Singers Highlights
- Many World Day of Prayer services at local churches over the years.
- Fundraiser (charity) concerts. Eg. Cystic Fibrosis, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Tsunami Disaster.
- Avondale United Church's 150th anniversary in 1999.
- First Baptist Church 150th anniversary in 2003.
- Asked to sing under a tent on an extremely hot day in July 2000 during the official designation of Annandale House as a National Historic Site.
- Sang at celebration of Rachel Parker as Tillsonburg Citizen of the Year in 2003.
- Christmas Concert at North Broadway Baptist Church – Ecumenical Services for Christian Unity, held at various Tillsonburg churches.
- Charity concert at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Ingersoll for Cystic Fibrosis and Lou Gehrig's diseases.
- Sang twice at Norwich Baptist Church.
- Opening celebration of new Church of the Latter Day Saints in 2006.
- St. Mary's Catholic Church for a Christmas party.
The Senior Centre Singers have had many pianists over the years including Marion Irwin, Jim Matthews, Daniel Durksen, Joe V., Shelley Vermeersch, Lynn Archdekin, and Carol Ferguson.
The Tillsonburg Senior Centre supplied the singers with all the pieces of music that had to be purchased.
Manager Jack Parker and the stage crew, consisting mainly of male singers, have been erecting the risers – originally wooden ones made by Jack Parker and Ken Holland, first in the Senior Centre Auditorium, and since 2002 on stage in the Lions Auditorium.
In recent years aluminum risers have been rented from Kitchener, adding to their expenses. Other expenses include renting the Lions Auditorium. As well, the pianist is paid for all practices, concerts, etc.
All risers are taken down by male singers early Saturday morning (8 a.m.) following the Friday evening concert. Verne's Carpet One supplies a truck to transport risers to and from Tillsonburg, free of charge. Grant Nunn volunteers to drive the truck.
In 2006 the Singers decided to donate after each concert a portion of the proceeds from tickets sold to Grandmothers to Grandmothers, Stephen Lewis Foundation, to combat AIDS in Africa. The money is used to help grandmothers raise their grandchildren whose parents have died or are dying of AIDS. Tillsonburg Senior Centre Singers have donated about $20,000 to this cause, said Rachel.
"We thank the public, our audience, for supporting us in this endeavour. We also thank the local media and all our great audiences and generous and caring public for your support each season.
"Thanks to God that we have been able to perform and share our love of music with everyone. Singing is good for a healthy heart and body and it enriches your mind and soul, and makes you more able to deal with your present situation."
The Singers are grateful to Nancy Boutin and Karen Rohrer and the Senior Centre board of directors for all their support.
FINAL BIG CONCERT
On Friday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lions Auditorium, the Tillsonburg Senior Centre Singers under Rachel and Jack Parker will sing their last big concert – their 20th Christmas Concert.
"We look forward to seeing everyone on Nov. 14th. Tickets are $12 – a portion of proceeds to Grandmothers to Grandmothers," said Rachel. "This will be a rather sad day for Jack and me, but changes do come and have to be made.
"We hope for a FULL HOUSE – 500 people – to make this final concert an overwhelming success, a tribute to the Singers who will sing their hearts out again as they always do."
Hundreds of singers have been involved over the past 20 years. Only five of the Singers are 'originals' from 1995, including Rachel and Jack Parker.
"See you on Nov. 14th and may God bless us all in these challenging times in our world," said Rachel.
IF YOU GO
Tillsonburg Senior Centre Singers 20th Christmas Concert
WHEN: Friday, November 14, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Lions Auditorium, Tillsonburg Community Centre
Proceeds to the Tillsonburg Senior Centre and Stephen Lewis Grandmothers to Grandmothers Foundation.
For tickets call the Senior Centre at 519-688-2520 or contact any choir member.
Choir director: Rachel Parker
Accompanist: Carol Ferguson
Manager: Jack Parker
2014 Christmas Concert
1. O Canada
2. People, Look East
3. Christmas Grace
4. Carol of the Bagpipers
5. When a Child is Born
6. Hallelujah! A Baby is Born
7. Let Heaven and Nature Sing
8. We'll Have a Ragtime Holiday
9. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
10. The Gifts of Christmas
1. Sing a Joyous Glad Noel
2. A Quintet of Carols
3. Once in Royal David's City
4. Climb Every Mountain
5. O Holy Night
6. Song of Peace
7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
8. Hands United in Peace
9. Let There Be Peace on Earth
10. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
11. Happy New Year to You