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Quaking in the pews

Audrey Hua '26

On a rainy Sunday afternoon in April, members of Mercersburg community–the borough and the Academy alike–gathered in the Irvine Memorial Chapel for the Mercersburg Community Chorus Concert, a concert performed biannually by over 60 local community members.

“I play the carillon for forty-five minutes before each program,” Jim Brinson, organist and carillonneur, said. “My favorite part is seeing how many volunteers come to sing. They come from all over this area, and none of them are paid, except the soloist and the orchestra.” 

Bryan Morgan ’07, Director of Music, shared his experience. “When I was a student here, I was in the Community Chorus. I knocked the average age down by like forty years, but it was fun!” he chuckled. 

“I think it’s a great event for the community, and it’s really awesome to see people that enjoy singing, enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves.” Morgan’s favorite part is the quality music. “You get to hear a professional orchestra right in our own chapel; it’s so cool.”

Marilyn Houck, retired Mercersburg athletic trainer, has performed with the alto section since 1975. “I love the Durufle: Requiem. I’ve sung it maybe two times before, and I love the music, orchestra, and everything that goes with it,” Houck said.  Her sister, who resides in Florida, drove all the way up to Mercersburg “just for the concert!” 

Kayla Statler, Vice President of Community Chorus, said, “The opera choruses are amazing. It’s a lot of fun to sing them and watch the soloists perform.” 

Sheila Parsons, who came to watch her daughter Elizabeth, said her favorite moment was “the soloist wearing a cape and holding a sword or the ‘Meow’ song because it was so silly!” 

Chinese teacher Grace Abel and her husband Andrew agreed: “It was wonderful.” 

Richard Rotz, Community Chorus director and founder and Mercersburg’s retired Director of Music, said, “It’s great music; music will stay with you for a long time, and these guys did it really well. 

“Magic was swirling all around me,” said art teacher Sydney Caretti. “We have a push-pull in visual arts, and my goodness, the push-pull was there. I love when it all comes to a crescendo, and it goes whoosh! I loved their acting, too.”

The Community Chorus Concert stands strong, preserving the passion of local singers and performers. “In this country, choruses like that have been dying out,” Brinson explained. “People are not committed to singing groups like they used to be, so the fact that Mercersburg has a chorus like this is somewhat unusual.” He emphasized, “I’m glad this tradition is still alive.”

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