After 28 seasons, the Sequim Community Christmas Chorus remains the area’s go-to musical source for sharing the Christmas story.
About 75 members make up the chorus under Gary McRoberts, conductor for the past six years. The chorus performs Nov. 29-Dec. 1, at Trinity United Methodist Church, combining classic sacred songs and original compositions on its program.
Membership extends from singers with musical backgrounds to those who just like to sing to even a few newcomers to town. First-time member Gail Sumpter said anyone can come and sing and McRoberts gets it all to work.
McRoberts said one of his biggest challenges is finding music year-to-year that anyone can embrace and sing.
“It truly is a community chorus,” McRoberts said. “We have people from all walks of life.”
The chorus has no religious affiliation and is open to singers of all backgrounds and religions. There are no auditions or fees to join when rehearsals begin each September.
This year, the chorus moves to Trinity United Methodist Church from Sequim Bible Church due to a scheduling conflict. It had performed there since 2005.
McRoberts said the format remains the same and its intent to tell the Christmas story is the same.
He said his hope is to have a broader spectrum each year, utilizing his 37 years of experience in choral music.
Member Jackie Dawley said McRoberts is easy to work with and brings a special flavor to the group.
“People simply adore singing under his direction,” she said.
McRoberts often adds original pieces to the program from local writers like long-time participant Karen Williamson. Her song “Glory to God” includes music by the Rainshadow Ringers bell group, a cello, violin and piano. First-time participant Taylor Ackley contributed his song “A Christmas Carmen.”
Ackley said he based the song on a John Greenleaf Whittier poem.
“It represents both the joy and the beauty of Christmas,” Ackley said.
“It’s been met with a lot of warm reception from other choir members,” McRoberts said. “He comes with a different ear. It’s a different kind of sound.”
Singers Michael Rivers, Dan Cobb and Shawn Dawson also perform for the show. The audience is invited to participate on some songs, too.
Elaine Carlson and downtown merchants formed the idea utilizing local church choirs together to put on an entertaining Christmas show emphasizing what they believe is the true meaning of Christmas. In 1984, Phil Rader directed the chorus with 175 singers, which also included the Sequim High School Choir and Bell Choir.