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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 10 months ago

Community choir returns to Winter Garden

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Anyone with a passion for singing is welcome to join the choir, which will have a greater focus on servicing the community.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

The Winter Garden Community Choir was started in 2007 to be a musical voice for West Orange County. As the organization grew, the name was changed to Garden Choir.

Dr. Jeffery Redding, choral director, said it’s time to put the “community” back into the choir, so he is debuting the return of the original name with a meet-and-greet kickoff Monday, Aug. 30. The gathering will allow Redding to share his vision of the choir and what he wants to accomplish in the upcoming season.

The name of the umbrella organization, Orlando Choral Society, will remain the same and still will present the WGCC and Voci del Cuore, a second choir that requires auditions.

“We’re still going to be Orlando Choral Society presents Winter Garden Community Choir,” Redding said. “That’s the big thing. In the issue of getting too large, you almost forgot a little bit of home, the mission. We’re bringing it back home but making it more inclusive, more working into the community, more servicing the community.”

It takes many partnerships to get to the level of “community” Redding desires. Rehearsals will be held at the First United Methodist Church of Winter Garden, and the choir will partner with the Garden Theatre for some of its performances. WGCC also is bringing back the annual wine walk that has been so popular in years past and will partner with other arts organizations.

“It’s about unity,” Redding said. “It’s about touching and changing lives. It’s about honoring our heritage.”

And the choir focuses more on collaboration than talent.

“The Winter Garden Community Choir is not about auditioning,” Redding said. “We’re looking for people who have a heart for service, a heart to change lives through music — but we’re also going to be serving the community. It’s bringing the past and present together — and also the future. This is Winter Garden’s choir.”

The Winter Garden Community Choir began with about 50 singers and Redding serving as the choral director. At the time, he also was director of choral activities at West Orange High School.

Redding received the Grammy Music Educator Award in 2019 for his role as a teacher in shaping students’ lives through music. He left his position at WOHS last year after 23 years to become the choral director at the University of Central Florida.

The choir — which has had as many as 200 members — has traveled in previous years to perform in such places as Ireland and New York City’s Carnegie Hall. This year, however, Redding’s goal is to build the choir and build unity.

This season is titled “From Broadway to Beethoven,” and Redding said participants can expect fun music, including Broadway classics and seasonal tunes, several performances with an orchestra — “things that are fun, things that are passionate, things that inspire passion. Things that make us us.”

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Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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