BLUE RIDGE SINGERS

Members of the Blue Ridge Singers practice at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Winchester.

WINCHESTER – The Blue Ridge Singers are preparing for their spring performances.

Jeff Alban, who is entering his eighth year as music director of the Blue Ridge Singers, said this year’s theme is “Oh, What a Glorious Day.”

“I heard a piece a few years ago by Jake Runestad called “Come to the Woods” and it talks about this beautiful day on a walk through the woods and a storm rolls through,” Alban said. “It basically says: “Come to the woods and rest.” I can’t wait to do it.”

There are 37 singers in the group who range from teenagers to older adults. Alban said he wanted to direct the Blue Ridge Singers because it was different than directing his church choir at Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Front Royal.

“Sunday comes every seven days, so we have to crank out one piece of repertoire after another,” he said. “In this situation, we get to work on a set of repertoire over a much longer period of time. We get to perfect it the best we can.”

Alban said that, while the group is used to singing in different environments, the biggest challenge for the Blue Ridge Singers has been singing in the All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas.

“It’s a huge room,” he said. “It’s not very conducive for musical performance. It’s a room made to carry spoken voice. It has acoustical tile. The room is just cavernous. You think it’s going to be cathedral-esque in there, but once you start, you’re like “oh”. It’s a surprise.”

Alban said he added a Cuban rumba to the program this year.

“It’s not so much related to the theme of our program, but it’s just a really fun piece to hear and for us to perform,” he said. “It’s a new exploration to some wild rhythms for the choir.”

“I love working with these people,” Alban said. “They want to be here. They want to learn the music.”

Pat Spory, who is the founder of the Blue Ridge Singers and also sings with the group, said that she and her daughter, Warren County High School music teacher Beth Whitney, wanted to start a group that would do music beyond just choral music.

“We wanted to do a different kind of music than what was currently being done by choirs in the area,” she said. “We wanted to have a group that would do a wide variety of music.”

Spory said she was pleased with the group’s growth over the last 10 years.

“It’s beyond what I ever could’ve imagined,” she said. “It’s larger than what I thought. It’s drawn audiences from a wide area. We’ve grown in terms of reputation and the level of difficulty of the music we do.”

The Blue Ridge Singers will perform starting at 7:30 p.m. April 26 at the Front Royal Presbyterian Church. The group will also perform at the First Baptist Church in Winchester at 4 p.m. April 28, at 7:30 p.m. April 30 at the All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, and at 4 p.m. May 5 at Christ Episcopal Church in Millwood.

Admission for the concerts is free. A free will offering will be taken.

– Contact Donald Lambert at dlambert@nvdaily.com