Songs with soul

Singing Quakers Alumni Choir readies 25th anniversary concert

the active age

A love of singing is something that never goes away, especially when the songs have special meaning to the singer.

That’s how Bonnie Bauer explains her attachment to the Singing Quakers Alumni Choir, which will present its annual concert on Saturday, Nov.  9. at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 1958 N. Webb Road.

“I love singing with them because of the music,” Bauer said. “It keeps me current with quality, classical music. And I enjoy the group of people. Everyone really does have a common thread, and it’s our Christian belief.”

The choir was formed 25 years ago by Dr. Cecil Riney, longtime director of the Friends University Singing Quakers. It’s open to anyone who belonged to the Singing Quakers while at Friends along with their spouses.

About 50 to 60 former Friends students currently take part. In honor of the group’s silver anniversary, an effort is being made to recruit more members for this year’s concert and the future.

“This is a big year,” Bauer said. “We are really hoping to get the word out to anyone in Wichita or even in driving distance who could come to our weekly rehearsal.”

Starting in late August, the group began holding rehearsals at 7:30 p.m. every Monday at Friends.

Bauer attended Friends from 1966-70. She went on to a long career as a music teacher, first in western Kansas, then in several Wichita elementary schools. She joined the choir after retiring five years ago.

Choir members vary from younger singers who are just out of college to local music teachers to older members who are active in other professions or retired.

 “Most of us have kept music in our lives some way or another.”

The choir performs “a huge, variety of music,” including from songs from musicals to classical pieces to spirituals to songs written by their guest conductor. This year that is Alan Raines, director of music at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.

Bauer said she particularly enjoys singing Quaker favorites such as “When I Survey” and “Praise His Holy Name.”

The choir uses proceeds from the concert for scholarships for current Singing Quakers and other needs in the Friends music program.

Bauer said alumni interested in joining the choir should contact the school’s Fine Arts Department at 316-295-5677. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert can be purchased by calling the same number.

She, for one, will miss the choir rehearsals until next fall comes along.

“It’s just a neat environment,” she said. “Being back on campus, it helps us retain our youth a little bit.”

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