Every Tuesday evening at Vi at The Glen, 20 residents gather for an evening of harmony and camaraderie at the community’s chorus rehearsal.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are or if you’re a man or a woman, if you have music in your life, it’s very uplifting,” said resident and founding chorus member Connie Byrne.
Mrs. Byrne formed the chorus when Vi at The Glen opened in 2002, and has been singing with them every week for 15 years. “Music has always been in my life,” she said. “When I was little, I used to save my milk money to pay for singing lessons.” Through the years, Mrs. Byrne has never lost her love of singing. “The beauty of song is so important to me. When I am involved in the music, I feel so relaxed.”
When she moved into Vi at The Glen, Mrs. Byrne saw an opportunity to create harmony, with both song and friendship. She surveyed her fellow residents to see if there was interest in forming a chorus, and when the response was positive, she turned to Vi employee and now Lifestyle Coordinator Connie Mailander, who had a shared passion for music.
“The chorus is really community-building,” Mailander said. “We can spend a lot of money bringing in outside entertainers to the Vi, but when the chorus sings, it’s standing room only. Everyone wants to come out to support their neighbors and loves to hear them sing. It’s a real sense of pride for the community.”
Concerts Connect the Community
Every week Mailander helps the chorus select music for their program, and accompanies them on piano while they sing. Over the years, the chorus has performed concerts with themes ranging from “Broadway” to “Around the World.” They perform twice annually in the community’s Glen Hall, once in the spring and once at the holidays.
“It’s a proven fact how music is healing and has so many health benefits,” Mrs. Byrne said. “We sing with gusto and have so much fun with it!”
Men are Part of the Ensemble
While some members of the chorus have had professional training, others have no formal musical background. Dr. Jim Conway grew up singing Irish songs with his sister while they washed the dishes. After retiring, he decided to try singing at the urging of two of his male friends at Vi. For a time, they even formed a barbershop quartet.
“I started to sing and it was just so satisfying,” said Dr. Conway. “The whole essence of a choir is that you really enjoy singing. It’s something special to hear the music and know it’s coming from yourself and others around you. It becomes a unified harmony that’s so nice.”
Dr. Conway particularly likes when the chorus performs for the residents at the care center. “A lot of people in the care center are former singers, so it’s nice when we can go and sing for them.”
New Members Are Always Welcome
Dee Wienke has also been a member of the Vi at The Glen chorus from the beginning. She enjoys it for the socializing as well as the lightness that it brings to her day. “It’s a real pick-me-up at the end of the day,” said Mrs. Wienke. “We have gotten to know each other really well and feel like a family. Singing with them puts a spring in my step!”
Mrs. Wienke makes it a point to encourage new residents to join the chorus. “We are always seeking new members and everyone is welcome. This is all about creating a community where we live and being a part of each other’s lives.”