As a dozen men stroll into Leverington Presbyterian Church to rehearse a few songs, they bring with them an undeniable experience that’s heard as immediately as they begin belting out their first song.
To the Roxborough Male Chorus, which consists mostly of men in their senior years, nothing stands in the way of their passion for singing old fashioned 1950s classics.
“We sing all types of music, that’s what makes it great,” said Alan Ankeny, president of the Roxborugh Male Chorus. “We’re not limited to one kind. We do everything from classical to barbershop to doo-wop.”
Its members rehearse twice a week to prepare for two annual concerts, including a spring concert just two months away, Ankeny says.
“The camaraderie is important, probably the most important. But you want to perform for the community to show the work we do,” he said.
Nearly nine decades in the making
Ankeny has been with the group for about seven years, but other members have been testing their vocals with the Chorus for much longer.
“John has seen the group over a long length of time,” he said, pointing to a man who was opening his song book.
“Since 1954,” John Barkley said, adding that he was 23 years old at the time. “We’ve had 44-some members when I first joined the group, and over the years, that number changed.”
When the Chorus first started more than 80 years ago, Barkley says the community centered around the church.
He praises the director of the chorus, Pat Montenegro, for coaching the men and bringing out what he says could be their best sound.
“Pat’s able to blend our group’s voices and make it sound just amazing, whether we’re 12 or 20 or more,” Barkley said.
Always seeking growth
As a graduate from Temple University from 2006, Montenegro has been directing the chorus for the past six years and says rehearing is like working out.
“Just like when you go to the gym, you always want to improve from the last time and you have to stay focused, and these men do that,” Montenegro says.
The Chorus is always looking for new members, even if men just want to try singing with them for a few weeks by coming to a Monday night rehearsal at 7:30 p.m. Montenegro says they’re still solidifying how the next concert will sound, but he hopes it to be one of their best yet.
“This upcoming concert features a lot of fun music, a lot of doo-wops and about 20 songs in all,” he says. “It’s a joy-of-singing type concert.”
The Spring Concert will take place May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Leverington Presbyterian Church.