Dr. Jeffery Redding orchestrates choir reunion

Singers who have worked with the director at West Orange High School and Garden Community Choir are invited to participate in the Passion & Purpose concert.

  • Arts + Entertainment
  • Things to Do
  • Share

Dr. Jeffery Redding is holding a large-scale reunion this weekend and hopes to connect with the students and residents he directed at West Orange High and Garden Community Choir during his 23 years at the school and in the last 17 with the neighborhood choral group. Orlando Choral Society will present the concert, expected to run about 90 minutes, with the theme of “Passion & Purpose.”

Redding said he is expecting more than 100 of his former singers to join in for a fun weekend.

A five-hour block party is being organized for Saturday in the cafeteria at West Orange High School.

“Everyone will come together to laugh, talk, gather together, bringing photo albums, there will be composite albums, a tour of the choir room and the campus,” Redding said.

There will be plenty of food for everyone, he said. Garrett Lee is a chef who owns Old Skool Cakes and is providing desserts. Lee was Redding’s first choir inductee at WOHS.

All who attend Saturday afternoon’s event can be part of the huge group photo.

Redding said he was convinced to plan the reunion weekend by former students and community members.

“They would just love to give back in song and give back to the community,” he said. “It’s a big thank-you performance for always supporting the Garden Community Choir and West Orange High School. The show will honor past and present singers, remember the ones who passed, and urge on current WOHS choir directors and students. It’s not about me; it’s about bringing everyone together.”

WOHS administrators also are being invited to hear former students perform.

Redding said attendees can expect to hear 10-15 songs, both familiar tunes and some new material, including “How Can I Keep From Singing,” “Rockin’ Jerusalem” and “Unity.”

Raellia Gettings is singing a tribute piece dedicated to the memory of Erica Carr. There will be a piece called “In Remembrance,” for other former performers who have died, as well.

“We’ve had good response,” Redding said. “I am the longest choral director in the history of West Orange High School, but I’ve had some incredible assistant directors who will be conducting at the concert; I had great assistant directors of the community choir also.”

Several of these assistants will be returning for the reunion concert.

Daniel Jackson, Redding’s first intern, became a high school choral director and was the first assistant conductor with the community choir. Kallina Chin, a longtime choral director who teaches high school choir, will conduct. Gail Mininger, Redding’s first piano accompanist and the collaborative pianist for all of his choirs, will play at the concert.

The event is taking place at First United Methodist Church Orlando because the returning performers wanted to go back to the place where they first created their musical memories with Redding.

Redding became WOHS choral director in 1997 and directed the Garden Community Choir starting in 2007.

After 23 years at West Orange High, Redding took two years off to work on his doctorate. He then joined the choral staff at the University of Central Florida.

He said this is the one and only reunion party he plans to hold.

“The next time it’s done is when I’m retired from all this and someone else is taking over,” he said. “And I’m not close to retiring.”



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

Latest News