Beautiful music made by local
Keeping music alive is imperative to the Golden
Gate Community Choir director Michael Whitaker who strives to
provide a joyful sound that becomes music
that he feels is needed in the world today. Anyone is welcome
to be a part of this community choir.
As the group gears up for the upcoming Palm Sunday Easter performance
on March 28 slated at 7 p.m. at the Damm Theatre in Osgood, they
look at where theyve come from.
The history of the Golden Gate Community Choir is filled with
variety, just as it has a variety of voices lifted in song. It
began as an experiment after Connie DeBurger of Osgood did a poll
in her hometown area churches about the possibility of having
an ecumenical Easter cantata. That was in 1996.
DeBurger directed that choir for about two years, accompanied
by Mary Margaret Moorhead, doing only Easter performances.
Roger Stratton then directed the choir for about six years, adding
a Christmas performance. Stratton reminisced that his favorite
Christmas performance was one called The Music of Christmas
and his favorite Easter performance was Hes Alive!
Stratton said he really enjoyed his time as the director.
In 1998, the choir was officially named the Golden Gate Community
Choir. Shortly after that, present director, Michael Whitaker
of Benham, took the helm. At that time, Ellen Mulford of Versailles
became the accompanist and still continues in that capacity today.
Pat Hicks of Napoleon has also served as accompanist for the group
as well as Don Rice, who is now deceased.
Director Whitakers music background is playing the trombone
and singing in the choir in high school at South Ripley. He feels
he had great music teachers and owes all of his musical knowledge
to Gary and Patsy Holdsworth, longtime music teachers at South
Ripley. He just wants the singers to enjoy singing and the audiences
to be inspired by the music.
Whitakers sister, Paula Grossman, is often a soloist in
the choir and her husband, Mark, has served as the drummer for
the group since the Christmas 2003 performance. Whitaker reports
there are two members of this choir who have been to nearly every
performance - Connie DeBurger of Osgood, and Billie Sue Ebinger
DeBurger said the choir has grown by leaps and bounds under
Whitakers leadership. He has done an excellent job in polishing
us. Every year our performances are more professional. He has
been good for the choir, she told The Versailles Republican.
Ebinger also had glowing praise for the choir as to what it provides.
The choir provides a very uplifting service for the Ripley
County area. Not only does the community have the opportunity
to hear a variety of spirit-filled music, but the participants
have the opportunity to share their talent as we lift our voices
to the Lord. She continued, All of us are from small
churches where we dont have a lot of opportunity to learn
full-bodied choral pieces.
She said one of the most common comments is Its so
nice to be able to harmonize again. Ebinger went on to say
she is proud to be a member of the group. It is my small
way of witnessing to the Lord. I hope I can remain in the group
for many more performances. I encourage anyone who likes to sing
to come and join us.
Anyone is welcome to sing with this choir. All that is required
is a joyful noise.
Children who can sit still and are with an adult can sing, too.
Music usually costs about $20 per singer. The choir asks a $10.00
donation from each member but does not track who pays and who
doesnt. Money is never a requirement to be able to sing
with the choir that is mostly funded by donations from members
with a free will offering taken at each performance.
Whitaker says the Lord always provides for their needs. Over the
years, when there were special projects, they received donations
from the Osgood Lions Club and the Benham United Methodist Church,
where director Whitaker attends. Some grants have been available
to them in the past, including one from the Ripley County Community
Picking the music for the group is Whitakers job. He says
he relies on God to guide him to pick music that will help
us celebrate and enjoy praising His name. The songs we sing should
be fun to perform as well as inspiring to the audience.
The 2009 Christmas performance was held for the first time ever
in the Damm Theatre in Osgood. Whitaker said not only was the
crowd large - so was the choir. They are currently working on
raising $1600 for the purchase of another set of choir risers
to safely accommodate the singers. There is an increased cost
with using the Damm Theatre, but already someone has offered to
pay the fee for the upcoming March performance.
The March 28 Palm Sunday event is a free concert to the public
with everyone welcome. This year the theme is Come to the
Cross. It will be an inspirational celebration of the life
of Jesus Christ. It will contain all kinds of music from contemporary
Christian rock and roll to old favorites such as In The
Whitaker is also an accomplished stained glass artist, having
fashioned at least two different stained glass windows from bits
and pieces of glass, to make beautiful windows. In just that same
way, he takes bits and pieces of various voices and blends them
all together for a beautiful sound.
He is thankful for the many participants who come
together to help keep music alive in the community.
KAREN REYNOLDS PHOTO
Above members of the Golden Gate Community
Choir gather to practice under the direction of Michael
Whitaker. The choir will perform Come to the Cross on Palm
Sunday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Damm Theatre. The performance
is free to the public. Pictured below is one of Whitaker's
stained glass creations, another one of his artistic abilities
to take bits and pieces and create beauty.