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'We cannot keep from singing'

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Chorale group show

The North Coast Chorale performs at a previous holiday concert.

The North Coast Chorale is formed by six basses, seven tenors, 16 altos and 16 sopranos. That’s 45 members, and the number is always rising. “We had new singers interested just this week,” Vincent Centeno, the chorale’s director, said.

The group – whose official motto is “we cannot keep from singing” – will hold its annual Messiah Sing-Along and Play-Along concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Charlene Larsen Center for the Performing Arts. They’re aiming to increase participation even more by inviting the community to sing or play an instrument along with members of the group.

Join community sing-along

“The Messiah” is an oratorio composed by George Handel.

The concert will also give back by supporting Clatsop Community Action’s regional food bank. Attendees are asked to bring donations and shelf-stable food items.

According to ChrisLynn Taylor, president of the chorale’s board of directors, audiences are invited to sing along with each chorus of the show. Musicians with instruments in tow are asked to reach out to Jones-Centeno prior to the event for access to group rehearsals and sheet music.

The show will feature selections from Handel’s “Messiah” and will feature vocal soloists Dennis Alwein, Patricia Ayerza, Mary Gunn, Katheryn Hagen, Ellen Kachel-Bewley, Hellen McClaine, Terri Miller, Ann Parrino, Andrea Patten, Alvis Porter, Bill Sulser and Lois Willis.

In December, the chorale will also host “Colors of Winter,’’ a seasonal concert, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 9 and at 4 p.m. Dec. 11, also at the Larsen Center.

Cindy Van Arsdall, the chorale’s publicist, described the concept for the winter concert. “The word color, when applied to music, takes on many connotations in order to define or create a certain quality of sound in a particular piece,” Van Arsdall said.

North Coast Chorale rehearsal

Members of the North Coast Chorale practice during a rehearsal.

In the meantime, members gather each Tuesday evening for rehearsals. New members are more than welcome, but must agree to a time commitment. Those wishing to sing in performances must attend a majority – more than 60% – of rehearsals.

Jones-Centeno, of Astoria, joined the group as a pianist shortly after moving from Eugene, where he was a doctoral student at the University of Oregon. As director, he brings over 20 years of conducting experience, and also teaches music at Lewis and Clark Elementary School.

The chorale performs classical, pop, gospel spirituals and even Broadway show tunes. Jones-Centeno said he enjoys his work with a diverse collection of music and people. “It’s a wonderful group with great personalities; it’s always inspiring to see everyone so excited about music.”

He added that this winter is a good time for new members to join in anticipation for spring events, which will include selections from “Les Miserables” and “West Side Story.” A collaboration with the children’s choir from the Astoria Conservatory of Music is also in the works.

“We are very lucky to have a dedicated core group that helps keep things on an even keel from year to year,” Taylor said. “Many members have put in over 20 years in the group. It has become a cherished part of my life.”

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