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Voices of North Georgia recaps 40 years of music, memories
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‘Forty Fabulous Years'
An anniversary concert by the Voices of North Georgia
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: St. Paul United Methodist Church, 404 Washington St., Gainesville
How much: $15, $12 seniors and students, $5 for children younger than 11
More info: 770-843-2307

It's been 40 years since a group of choral singers got together at First Baptist Church of Gainesville to sing some favorite tunes and share their love of music.

It was a bit of an informal gathering, with some members of the Gainesville Federated Music Club and others just members of the community. But what started as one performance turned into a group of friends who wanted to continue singing together, and The Gainesville Chorale was born.

Now with the new name of The Voices of Northeast Georgia - adopted two years ago to reflect the ever-broadening area from where the singers come - the choral group will perform a selection of favorites from the past four decades, celebrating the 40th season of the group.

Performances are Friday and Sunday at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 404 Washington St., Gainesville.

"It's our 40th anniversary concert, so it's just a compilation of favorites," said the group's president, Patsy Overton.

Director Bruce Nunley picked songs that stood out as favorites over the years, she added. "He's putting together favorites of different decades of The Gainesville Chorale," she said.

Selections include pieces from Mozart's "Requiem" and Handel's "Messiah," along with contemporary composers like Randall Thompson.

I try to pick out pieces that have sentimental value, too," Nunley said, including pieces sung by the choral group during a tour of Europe or at a concert in New Orleans.

A couple pieces by William Dawson, for example, hold memories for some members, too, since In 1980 The Gainesville Chorale's director brought Dawson to town, where he led a master class for the group before they performed his piece.

"Each one is a high point," Nunley said.

The Gainesville Chorale made its debut on Dec. 11, 1968, at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville. Some highlights of the group's history, according to Overton, include performing with the Atlanta Symphony in 1973, performing with the Gainesville Symphonic Wind Ensemble during its 10th anniversary concert at Pearce Auditorium and performing in Germany and Austria in 1989.

The group has also performed at several tree lighting festivities at Babyland in Cleveland during the 1980s, Christmas festivities at Callaway Gardens in the early 1990s, at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1992 and in New Orleans the next year for Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Requiem" mass.

Member Elizabeth Wade, who has been with the group since 1973 ("but I can't find the program - '74, definitely," she said), said there are several songs on the program that bring back memories for her.

"'O Fortuna.' It's a challenge, but I liked it very much," she said. "'Kyrie.' We did that 20 years ago."

Ken Barkley, who has been with the group since 1985, said the selections show the styles of the directors who have led the group over the years.

"Every season it's new, even though we would recycle pieces we had success with," he said. "It's a camaraderie you don't get in many groups."

Wade added it's all been time well spent.

"I've enjoyed every bit of it."

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