Each year, the Viking Park Singers perform their holiday concert in December – a repertoire of diverse seasonal music that invokes a sense of nostalgia in all who hear it.
This year, the celebration continues on Sunday, Dec. 3 at Viking Park Dance Hall, 4374 Old Grand Avenue, as the choir performs its selection of classic holiday songs and non-traditional music, such as “Jingle Bell Fantasy” and “All on a Starry Night.”
The annual holiday concert has been a tradition from the very beginning. The Viking Park Singers began performing for the residents of Gurnee in 1989 under the direction of Jim Curry. After his retirement, Rita Byrd, a student of choral music, stepped in as director in 1994 and has led the group ever since.
Concerts are held in the summer and the winter, but members also perform during the group’s annual fundraiser – the Italian Fest and other community events.
The Viking Park Singers were originally comprised of members with a background in Barbershop and according to Byrd, and today the group performs an assortment of genres, including show tunes and musicals.
Viking Park Singers travel from all over to be a part of the chorus - from various parts of Lake County and as far away as Wisconsin. The number of men and woman in the group can range from 45 to 75 participants at any given time. And while being able to read music is a plus, members say it’s not a requirement.
Every year, the group begins practicing for its holiday concert in September with Carol Hemmer, accompanying on piano. Singers pay a registration fee which goes to the Gurnee Park District to help cover operating expenses incurred by the group. According to Byrd, some members receive salaries and stipends.
The group says it wants to collaborate with other choirs in the area…something they see happening in the near future. For now, Byrd continues to enjoy directing the group of men and women that make up the Viking Park Singers.
Lake County residents are invited to come out and enjoy the annual holiday concert. Tickets can be purchased online – $7 for adults and $4 for students aged 6-17. Children under 5 are free.
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