A decade of singing in Valmeyer

Pictured, the Valmeyer Community Chorus performed at a “Salute to the Monroe County Bicentennial” at Hope Christian Church in August 2016. The group is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a Christmas concert this Sunday.

A group created to help celebrate a community milestone is now commemorating one of its own, as the Valmeyer Community Chorus is celebrating 10 years of existence. 

Former Valmeyer High School Choral Director Marcia Braswell started the group as part of Valmeyer’s centennial celebration in 2009. 

“For a long time, it had been a dream of mine to have a community group,” Braswell said. “Several community members had approached me throughout the years saying, ‘it would be really cool after we got out of high school to have another place we can sing.’” 

Braswell did not have time to start such an organization while working full time, but that changed after she retired in 2008. 

The chorus, whose members are Valmeyer residents or connected with the village in some way, soon came together for the centennial festivities. 

Its first performance was a community theater production that took place in August 2009, while its first concert was that December. 

“It was really good,” Braswell said of the response to those early shows. “The community really supported it.” 

Since those first shows, the chorus has put on an average of one performance a year. 

The themes of the productions varied, with some Christmas concerts and one patriotic performance that honored first responders and veterans.  

“They’ve all been special,” Braswell said. “They’ve all been good because they’ve all been different.” 

Similarly, the chorus’ membership is diverse in at least one aspect. It normally has about 40 singers who range in age from teenagers to seniors in their 80s. 

Since it performs so few shows, Braswell said many chorus members can continue participating far longer than they otherwise could because several of them are very involved in the community.  

“Valmeyer’s always had a lot of talent, so I think it’s a way for them to keep connected with each other and enjoy their music background without having to be committed to a rehearsal every week all year round,” she explained. 

Individuals can see Valmeyer’s talent for themselves at this year’s anniversary concert, which is called “Christmas in a Small Town.” 

That takes place at 4 p.m. this Sunday at St. John United Church of Christ in Valmeyer.  

Every song at this free concert will be a holiday one, except for two. One of those is “Peace in the Valley,” the theme song from the chorus’ first performance. The other is VHS staple “Joy in the Morning.” 

In addition to the Valmeyer Community Chorus, the Millstadt Community Choir will perform a couple numbers of its own and three songs with Valmeyer’s group. 

The Valmeyer Community Chorus will return the favor Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at Zion Evangelical Church in Millstadt when it serves as a guest group for Millstadt’s show. 

For the best sample of Valmeyer’s talents, though, Braswell said people should attend this Sunday’s concert. 

“It would be worthwhile to come and put away all the stress of the holidays and just sit back and enjoy the music from people who just love to sing,” Braswell said. 

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