Lake Region Community Chorus treasurer Nancy Sosman, shown here at Bridgton Academy’s Twitchell Chapel where the group performs, says she always liked to sing but didn’t make time for it until she joined the group. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

BRIDGTON — As the Lake Region Community Chorus gears up for its winter session, it’s inviting new members to join to feel “the joy of being with people who are enjoying what we’re doing together as a group.”

The chorus was founded in 2013 “to provide an outlet for people who love to sing and to be able to share that with the community,” treasurer Nancy Sosman said. 

Auditions are not required, and members need not have previous singing experience to join.

“There are some people who’ve been singing all their lives, people who have been for years part of their church choir, and then we have a bunch of people who don’t really have any background. They just like to sing. That’s me. I always liked to sing. I’d never made room for it in my life,” Sosman said. 

Jan Jukkola, the principal conductor, said she loves the clarity that she feels when onstage. “When you’re up there in front of the group, that’s all there is. You’re just right there. I totally love it.” 

“There’s a benefit, an emotional, spiritual benefit, to rehearsing and singing music together. We try to do the best we can, but we don’t beat ourselves up that we can’t be professionals,” said Bill Hamm, president of the board of directors. “It’s the joy of being with people who are enjoying what we’re doing together as a group.

Sosman said about 20 people showed up at the first meeting in 2013, and the chorus has now grown to about 55 members who hail from towns across the Lakes Region, including Bridgton, Naples, Sebago, Raymond, Casco and Windham.

Jukkola said some members have left the group because “they’re ready for more of a challenge than a community chorus can offer them.”

However, the chorus has still continued to grow, to the point that the board of directors is concerned about fitting everyone onstage since they don’t want to turn away interested participants.

Members pay a fee each session to cover the cost of music, but the nonprofit is otherwise funded by donations and advertisements in the concert programs.

The Lake Region Community Chorus performs at its winter 2018 concert. Photo courtesy of Glen Jukkola

The chorus practices on Monday nights for two hours and holds two sessions a year in preparation for two free concerts in December and May. The three conductors choose the songs at the beginning of each session. The winter concert has a Christmas theme but combines an eclectic mix of choices, from the “Hallelujah Chorus” to a Hawaiian Christmas song to a spiritual Christmas theme, Sosman said.

Both rehearsals and performances are held in the Twitchell Chapel at Bridgton Academy, which Jukkola said “has been wonderful to us.”

Hamm added, “We wouldn’t be able to do it without Bridgton Academy and their generosity in allowing us to use that venue free to rehearse and perform there.” 

We are kind of at capacity for what we can put on this stage. If we continue to grow, the question of ‘do we need to find a bigger hall?’ will come into play,” Sosman said.

Hamm said the nonprofit has already saved “substantial funding” if that should be the case. “We want to keep going, no matter what happens down the road.”

The chorus rehearses and performs in the Twitchell Chapel. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

Another question the board is grappling with is paying its accompanists and conductors, since the entire organization is run by volunteers, but no long-term plans have been made.

The chorus is seeking members for its winter session; the first rehearsal of the season will be held Monday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Jukkola at [email protected]

Sosman encouraged interested community members to join, saying, “No matter what kind of mood you are in when you come into rehearsal, you end up going out feeling up and feeling good.” 

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