Arts and Entertainment

Whidbey choral group promotes health through harmony

Linda Schwarz, Steve Motenko and Peggy Taylor direct members of last year’s “Songfest” audience.   - Kim Tinuviel photo
Linda Schwarz, Steve Motenko and Peggy Taylor direct members of last year’s “Songfest” audience.
— image credit: Kim Tinuviel photo

Singing brings pleasure and is good for the body.

It’s as simple as that.

According to a study done by scientists of Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing (AIRS), both singing and listening to choral music reduces the level of stress hormones and increases immune function.

The 60 or more folks who make up the Open Circle Community Choir have been boosting their health for more than six years on Whidbey. The choir wants to share the pleasure and benefits they reap by singing in harmony with other folks, even if those folks were told at some point in their lives that they can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

“So many people have been told that they have bad voices and they never get to enjoy that vibration that comes with singing harmony,” said choir member Peggy Taylor. “Then they come and they sound beautiful.”

“We simply want people to come and experience Vitamin H, the power of singing in harmony.”

Taylor is the founder and co-director of the Open Circle Community Choir, along with Steve Motenko. They invite anybody and everybody to join the choir for the second annual “Songfest” from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island in Freeland.

The evening is titled “Sing Away the Winter Gray,” and everyone is welcome who loves to sing, as well as all those who have never given singing a try.

“People who were told they can’t sing are deprived of what I think is one of the real joys of life,” Taylor said.

Taylor and Motenko will teach simple four-part harmonies that groups of singers can master in five to 10 minutes. The music on the program will range from easy to learn spirituals to Hebrew, African and Latin songs, with the choir performing an additional four songs for the audience.

Taylor noted that, recently, with the studies being done such as the one mentioned by AIRS, there’s been a revival of choral singing.

“Singing raises the endorphins and makes people feel happier,” she added. “We’ve all heard music and harmony all of our lives. With a little bit of help, you can get into it quickly.”

Open Circle is a non-audition community choir that meets Mondays at 7 p.m. at South Whidbey High School. New singers are invited to join through February. For more information about the Open Circle Community Choir, call Motenko at 221-2161 or Taylor at 221-4550.

Songfest not only promotes the pleasure of singing in the community, but also serves as a fundraiser for Whidbey Island Nourishes, which provides food to needy teens and children on the island.

A voluntary donation of $5 per person is requested at Songfest.

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