An amateur chorus of senior singers has just debuted its first season in northeast Johnson County — and is already gearing up for its second.
The chorus, EncoreKC!, organized earlier this year and began rehearsals in February. So far, EncoreKC! has had one season and one concert. Lauren Bond, a singer in the chorus and also chorus manager, said they “were kind of surprised how much interest there was to have a senior choir just generally available to the public, for people to join and enjoy.”
“We were hoping to have maybe 40, initially, and people just kept on coming once word started spreading around,” Bond said, adding that it’s been “amazingly” successful. “We’re surprised, pleasantly, that things have gone very smoothly. We have a really good leadership team so far.”
EncoreKC! is the brainchild of Phyllis Curtis and Pam Smith Kelly. Curtis’s husband, Frank, had been a voice teacher. Before Frank died, the couple had created a musical theater program called “Love in the Afternoon” and performed it for a local senior living community.
After Frank’s death, Smith Kelly and Curtis came up with the idea to continue Frank’s legacy and the couple’s love of music through the new senior chorus. Their goal is similar to that of the program: To give a platform for older generations to make connections and exercise their memories through musical experiences.
“Many senior living communities have choirs for people who live there, but if you’re out in the community, you may not have a choir that’s convenient for you to participate in,” Bond said. “That’s the customers, you might say, that we try to serve: Folks in the community who enjoy singing.”
Smith Kelly co-conducts the chorus alongside Mary Beth Boucher, and Curtis accompanies the chorus on the piano.
Most of the singers in the chorus are from Johnson County — mainly Prairie Village, Overland Park and Olathe — but a handful come from other parts of the Kansas City metro area and even Paola to perform as well.
The chorus’s inaugural concert took place May 5 with 68 singers at Asbury United Methodist Church. An audience of more than 100 enjoyed a program of musical works in four-part harmony, including a piece from a Broadway musical, a patriotic standard, a couple of sacred songs and some popular tunes from bygone days.
“This is our first year; we’re still growing and learning and figuring out how we will proceed and how we will be of value to the community,” Bond said, adding that the concerts are free as a service to the community.
EncoreKC! is gearing up for its second concert Aug. 4, with more than 70 singers scheduled to perform. The concert begins at 3 p.m., again at Asbury United Methodist Church, 5400 W. 75th St. in Prairie Village. EncoreKC! rehearses at 11 a.m. Mondays at the same church. The fall season starts Sept. 9.
“We’re hoping to provide another place for seniors who like to sing to come and be out in the community and offer their skill, talent and history, personal background, to the community,” Bond said. “Everybody wants to contribute to community, and being a part of a chorus is one way we can help contribute to the arts community here in the Kansas City area.”