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greater decatur chorale

Guided by Director/Conductor Ted Hesse, the Greater Decatur Chorale launches into “The Great American Songbook” on Sunday at Richland Community College’s Shilling Auditorium. The show featured classic numbers from Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and more.  

DECATUR — As the Greater Decatur Chorale put their hearts into singing “Who Could Ask for Anything More?” Sunday afternoon, audience member Linda Hooge already had the answer: No one.

She loved that George Gershwin number and the chorale’s rendition of other classic favorites featuring the work of fellow musical giants like Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin and Judy Garland.

The chorale’s “Great American Songbook” two-hour concert series wrapped up a three-day run Sunday at Richland Community College’s Shilling Auditorium, leaving Hooge convinced that no one could want for anything more.

“I like the music, I like the people, and I’ve followed the chorale for probably five or so years,” said Hooge, 68, who lives in Decatur. “You can see they enjoy singing, you see it in the animation, the way they kind of dance while they sing. The price is also right (tickets were $10 in advance, $12 at the door) and they give you a lot for your money; as a person that is over 65, I appreciate that kind of thing.”

Hooge brought her neighbor, Ruth Pelz, along to enjoy the show and she didn’t have any problem naming her favorite number: “All of them,” said Pelz, 94, sporting a broad smile.

They were in good company as the audience, numbering more than 370, was a sell-out. The 70-strong chorale had its own ranks swollen with the guest additions of Maroa-Forsyth choirs from sixth grade, seventh and eighth grades and high school, who sang on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.

“We all sing fun music, and it’s music people are familiar with by wonderful composers,” said Greater Decatur Chorale Director/Conductor Ted Hesse, who met his wife, Dr. Kristin Newcome Hesse, when she showed up for a chorale audition.

Auditions are coming up again at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Poage Arts & Recreation Center, 2020 N. Oakland Ave. For information on requirements and preparation, call the Decatur Park District’s cultural arts manager, Marie Jagger-Taylor, at (217) 421-6648.

Jagger-Taylor said the park district doesn’t have many adult programs but it really hit one out of the park with the creation of the chorale in 1985. “It’s been supported not only by the people who want to be in it, but also by the audiences,” she added. “To make music is to make magic.”

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