They come from all over — Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Simi Valley, even the San Fernando Valley. They are teachers, students, nurses and retirees. Others are in business or real estate. Some make their living as professional musicians. What they have in common is their love of singing and their desire to share their passion with others. When they come together, they are one. They are the Village Voices Chorale, a group of men and women that is 70 voices strong. This holiday season, like every one since 1994, they will perform their eagerly awaited concert of festive holiday music at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.
’Tis the Season (Scherr Forum Theatre, Dec. 2 and 3) will feature “something for everyone.” Beloved Christmas carols share the bill with classic spirituals, folk songs, Broadway tunes, Hanukkah songs, jazz favorites and certainly a few laughs and surprises. The tone will range from the sublime “Silent Night,” “The First Noel/Pachelbel’s Canon” and “Betelehemu” (a Nigerian carol) to a jubilant audience singalong.
Backed by flute, clarinet, guitar, piano and percussion, the human voice is the star instrument of the evening. The Covenant Ringers Handbell Choir from the United Methodist Church of Westlake Village, led by director Nick Newkirk, will join in, too. Sarah Salazar, the 2016 Village Voices Scholarship recipient and a Masters of Music student at California State University, Northridge, is a soloist.
“We enjoy bringing the joy and power of music to the community, and our December concerts are a great way for audiences to catch the spirit of the season,” says chorale director Gloria Hilliard. The Village Voices Chorale has been sharing its love of music since 1969, when a group of people in Westlake found kindred spirits in one another — meaning they found others who loved to sing just as much as they did. Its first show was a Christmas dinner concert. Since then, the singers have performed regularly in different churches around Ventura County, as well as in other venues. They’ve toured Europe several times, and this summer a few members will perform in Canada.
The group’s annual holiday concert is one of its main events, but the Village Voices Chorale gives the gift of music all year long. It supports local elementary school chorale programs as well as area college students majoring in voice. A nonprofit organization, to date it has donated more than $150,000 in grants and scholarships. These gifts are gladly shared. As Hilliard explains, “Music is therapeutic! It touches lives like nothing else, and there is something so special about making beautiful music with others.” The men and women of the Village Voices Chorale sing for the love of it. “The Village Voices Chorale is filled with caring people who feel the power of music in their lives,” adds Hilliard.
Holiday music is everywhere this time of year, but nothing compares to experiencing it live, as it should be. Not piped into a store, but sung by a powerful chorale swept up in the love of song and the joy of the season. The Village Voices Chorale promises to brighten your holidays with an evening that will remind you that beloved and familiar music can still hold the power to move, uplift and enchant you — no matter how old you are. That’s something to sing about.
’Tis the Season runs Dec. 2-3 at Scherr Forum Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. For tickets and more information, call 449-2787 or visit www.civicartsplaza.com.