Since its inception in 2007, the Garden Choir organization has grown, evolved and added two choirs under its umbrella.
Now, it has a new name to accommodate its expanding community reach.
On Monday, Feb. 11, the organization’s board members hosted a party at Tanner Hall in Winter Garden to reveal its new name — the Orlando Choral Society.
“Our conversation was started a year ago, maybe, that the Garden Community Choir as an organization has done so much in the last 10 years since it was started and founded in 2007,” Garden Choir Board President Chad McClellan said. “We’ve added so much — we’ve got over 100 members in the Garden Choir right now. We’ve got our newest ensemble, Voci del Cuore, and we started the Outreach Choir this year. We’ve added a canned food drive, and we’ve just got all these different programs that we felt that the name Garden Community Choir didn’t quite match up with the organization and the scope of what we’re doing.”
Although each of the existing choirs will keep their respective names, they are now grouped together under the umbrella of the Orlando Choral Society.
“The Garden Community Choir is our biggest choir,” McClellan said. “It’ll always be the Garden Community Choir, but the organization we felt like just needed a broader name that encompasses what we do as an organization.”
The name came after countless hours of brainstorming among the choir members and ensuring it didn’t infringe on anything that already existed. When OCS popped into McClellan’s mind and he went to share it with the rest of the choir online, he found Communications Director Lindsay Stough also had just posted the same suggestion.
“It really does kind of define that our specialty is,” he said. “ No matter what kind of musical genres that we venture into, no matter if we have instrumental classes we put on ... That’s where we landed, and we’re really happy with it. … We’re operating under an umbrella organization. Under that, we have all these different avenues where we can go and take advantage of these different programs that we’re hoping to use to build community through song.”
Board members also announced Garden Choir Artistic Director Dr. Jeffery Redding has been asked to conduct the Beethoven 250th Birthday Celebration concert in Vienna, Austria, next year. The choir will be traveling with Perform International and also will perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna. More details will be coming soon.
Aside from the name change and upcoming performance, the organization announced it is the recipient of a significant grant from the Universal Orlando Foundation. They will be using the grant to offer the inaugural OCS Summer Choir Camp this year, which will allow 100 high-school students interested in choral singing and conducting to come and study with Redding and Assistant Director J. Christine Le. Best of all, thanks to the grant, students will be able to attend tuition-free.
“That I’m aware of, I don’t know of any kind of free camp like that for high-school students anywhere,” McClellan said. “I’ve been to chorus camps myself as a high-schooler, because I’m a choir nerd, and there was always some tuition involved. Thanks to the Universal Orlando Foundation grant, which was so generous, we’re able to provide this camp for free to 100 choir kids. We’re really looking forward to implementing that this summer and seeing where it takes us.”