With six-plus decades directing choirs of various ages and denominations, Dr. Jerome Wright has a plethora of pieces to pick from for his Peninsula Singers.
That’s a very good thing, the longtime conductor/musical director said.
“I can program in a very open way, and I prefer to do that,” Wright said last week, just prior to a Peninsula Singers rehearsal.
“There are a variety of pieces,” he said about “A Season of Gratitude,” the group’s upcoming fall concert.
“I’m like a kid in a candy store.”
Concert attendees can expect plenty of “fun” pieces — and more than a few surprises — at the concerts, set for 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, 925. N. Sequim Ave.
Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted at the door.
A dress rehearsal, set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, also at the church, is open to the public as well.
‘Season of Gratitude’
The fall concert, Wright noted, gets its title from being just two weeks away from Thanksgiving.
Accompanied by Mark Johnson throughout, the Peninsula Singers open the concert with a chorale titled “Nun Danket Alle Gott” (Now Thank We All Our God), a work by Johann Crueger in both German and English, followed by “Give thanks and Glorify His Name” by Lloyd Larson.
“It’s something traditional to something more upbeat,” Wright said.
Those are followed by Captain Kidd’s “God Is Seen,” arranged by Alice Park.
This song, Wright noted, honors God in all nature.
The Christmas portion of the concert opens with “Est ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen” (Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming), what Wright calls an “elegant” arrangement by John Rutter, follwoed by “Sure On This Shining Night” by Morten Andersen, based on the poem by James Agee.
The program’s major work is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols,” featuring popular local contralto Vicki Helwick, who lends her considerable soloing talent to this piece.
“She sounds very nice on this,” Wright said with a grin.
Also included in the concerts are “Feast of Lights,” a commemoration of Hanukkah, and “Jessye’s Carol” (This Christmastide), a piece originally written by Donald Fraser for American opera singer and recitalist Jessye Norman.
The concert finale — “A Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas” by Craig Courtney — features singers exploring the 12 days through the styles of various composers over different musical periods, from Gregorian Chant to martial music.
The audience, Wright said, will enjoy guessing which composer is being spoofed.
“It’s going to be very fun.”
Leading the way
Wright, a veteran of adult, youth, church and choral choirs since his mid-teens (he’s in his 80s now), led the Seattle Girls Choir for more than a quarter of a century, including a time when he commuted from his home in Brinnon. Now a Sequim resident, Wright led the Olympic Girls Choir (1998-2003) until a heart attack led him to give it up, and resurrected it in 2015.
He officially retired from his Seattle Girls Choir stint in 2010.
Wright was selected to lead the Peninsula Singers after longtime director Dewey Ehling died in August 2016.
“It’s good the Peninsula has a group like this,” Wright said.
Like many other local groups, the Peninsula Singers struggled with how to keep singing through the COVID pandemic, with a group of about 20 reuniting in October 2021 to keep singing.
“We finally just got rid of masks,” Wright said.
The group held a spring concert in early May at the Lutheran church, and it was packed, Wright said.
“There wasn’t a chair in this church that wasn’t filled … but that’s wonderful,” he said. “People wanted to hear live music.”
For more about the Peninsula Singers group, visit facebook.com/groups/58743394346.
‘A Season of Gratitude’
What: Peninsula Singers’ fall concert
When: 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12-13; dress rehearsal (open to public) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10
Where: Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, 925. N. Sequim Ave.