There is something so magical about a choir. Several voices singing together in unison, separating out into gorgeous harmonies, the blend of so many voices becoming something better than any one singer can create on their own, the joy of listening and participating, these are a few things that come to mind when we think of a choir. Choirs have been popular as early as 2nd BC in ancient Greece, evidenced by surviving choral collections dating from that time. Any person who has spent time in drama circles, choir, musicals, band, orchestra, etc can relate to the sheer glee that occurs when a group of people come together to sing and play music!
Over the past 20 years, choirs have been slowly disappearing from churches, ultimately disengaging people who love to sing and make a joyful noise, relegating to a handful of musicians who are very talented and creating a platform for performance rather than encouraging engagement from the congregation as a whole.
The beautiful thing about a choir is you can take a group of people who range from exceptionally skilled to people who can barely carry a tune, teach them parts and to sing together and the result is something that is beyond the scope of what a small group of skilled musicians could ever create. Under the direction and patience of a good leader, choirs can make the mundane excel and conquer and deliver the divine. What people forget, is that a choir is a gleaming example of what a group of mismatched people with different backgrounds, different sounds, different tonalities can do. It’s a fine exercise in teamwork, listening, goal setting, and ultimately producing something beautiful that not only the choir benefits from, but engages the audience to participate.
Bruce Cochran is carrying on a centuries old tradition of a ‘sanctuary choir’ in Chandler, AZ. With over a hundred voices from over 50 churches, the East Valley Chorale has produced several albums, their latest being Hymns, Old and New. This collection brings a classical approach to some familiar older hymns as well as some newer beautiful songs of faith and devotion. While the East Valley Chorale is not as clinically technical as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, there is a warmth that supersedes any technical precision, and makes in our opinion, much easier to listen to than the MTC.
Classic fanfare, strings and some contemporary band elements dot each of the songs, but the true gem of each track is the East Valley Chorale. What makes this group special, is you truly feel that when they are singing classic hymns like “It is Well” and “Blessed Assurance” that each individual voice believes what they are singing is real and meaningful. That they are indeed of one mind and accord in their mission of delivering each song. The arrangements are warm, well executed, and just wonderful. From “All Creatures of Our God and King” to “Come thou Fount” to “The Old Rugged Cross” this is a good treasure to have for your collection. Ask for Hyms Old and New as well as Even in the Valley, A Little More Like You, Written in Red and My Heart is Bethlehem for gifts this year, or add them to someone’s stocking!
The East Valley Chorale is a non profit group, performing for small churches, their community and nursing homes in AZ.
Get this and any one of their other albums, you won’t be disappointed.