In 1942, the movie “Casablanca” premiered at the Hollywood Theater in New York City. A postage stamp cost three cents and gasoline was 19 cents per gallon. It was also the year 15 singers came together to perform Bach’s “B Minor Mass,” forming what is known today as the Westchester Choral Society (WCS).
Chorus members have come and gone since that first gathering, but the collective experiences of the group’s participants create its rich history.
Some current singers remember participating in – and winning! – a contest sponsored by Pepsi to write a new Diet Pepsi jingle in 1991. Others reminisce about performing at Carnegie Hall in 1979 or participating in an off-Broadway show in 2015. But the element that keeps veteran members coming back – and attracts new members – is the chance to create new memories with WCS in its current iteration which includes a roster of nearly 65 singers, ranging in age from 25 to 85.
“I don’t have any one fond memory; it’s always just been a wonderful group of people,” said Dot Young, a Mount Kisco resident who joined WCS in 1988.
“I never thought of going to another chorus. In those days, you came to a group, you liked the director, you learned and had fun. And it’s always been a lot of fun.”
While times have changed a bit since then -- life is more hectic for one -- the mission behind the WCS has stayed the same: providing a voice to those who love to sing and offering concerts for those who appreciate exceptional music.
Folks who are members must audition to get in -- and often stay for years. It is a volunteer post with singers meeting once a week and rehearsing at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains. Some are professional singers while others are amateurs.
WCS has a lot to be proud of. It is the county’s longest continuously performing chorus, and it continues to go strong. The group kicked off its 76th season Tuesday, Sept. 12 with its first rehearsal of Brahms' "Ein deutsches Requiem," which will be performed Dec. 9 with the Chappaqua Orchestra at Manhattanville College in Purchase.
The group generally performs two shows a year; one in spring and one in winter at various locales across the county, as well as Christmas caroling and "summer sings."
For more details, including information on how to join, go to www.westchesterchoralsociety.org.