The Garden Choir’s 11th season will feature four main concerts in addition to performances at various other events.
Dr. Jeffery Redding has a simple mission in life — to serve the community through music. That mission is embodied in the work he does with the Garden Choir.
“My heart’s desire truly is to serve people — but through music,” Redding said. “The premise is building community through song.”
Redding is the artistic director of the Garden Choir. He’s also the director of choral activities at West Orange High School. He said the Garden Choir is open for anybody to join, regardless of skill level.
“We want the non-singer,” Redding said. “We want the person that doesn’t have a lot of experience. We want them all, basically.”
The Garden Choir usually performs three concerts each year but will be performing in an additional concert during this winter.
“We’re going to join the First United Methodist Church of Downtown Orlando … (for a concert) called ‘A First United Christmas,’” Redding said. “We’ll have a full orchestra — an almost 50-piece orchestra. ... That’ll be something new for the Garden Choir, because my thing is, I strongly believe that every choir should have the opportunity to sing with an orchestra.”
The other three concert performances are the Christmas Concert, spring concert and a Unity Concert, which will benefit a nonprofit organization in need, Redding said.
In addition to its regular concert performances, the Garden Choir also has performed at Disney’s Candlelight Processional, West Orange High School chorus concerts, Winter Garden Music Festival and Ocoee’s the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration, Garden Choir Board President Chad McClellan said.
Each year, the choir averages about 100 members. When the choir started in 2007, it had around half of that number, McClellan said. He is a former student of Redding’s and has been involved with the Garden Choir since the beginning.
“It wasn’t a big group,” McClellan said. “I think it’s great that we’re about double the size we were 10 years ago. We’re always getting new folks in. … We get folks coming in from all over the place.”
Choir members vary in age from recent WOHS graduates to individuals enjoying their retirement.
“Some of (the choir members) go back to my very first year of teaching — and I’ve been teaching for about 21 years — to now,” Redding said.
When it comes to the songs, the choir sings a little bit of everything, Redding said.
“(We) don’t just do … one type of music,” Redding said. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but the educator in me says they need to do more (types of music).”
Redding said inspiring choir members is a driving force behind his mission to serve the community through music. He added he wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for his mother and teachers pushing him to succeed. Today, he strives to be an inspiring force for others.
“When you think you’re not good enough, I’ll push you more,” Redding said.
Redding added he is only a small part of what the choir does for the community and credits leaders such as accompanist Ledean Williams; Assistant Creative Director Christine Le, who teaches at Olympia High School; and the choir’s board of directors: President Chad McClellan, Vice President Sharon Graham, Secretary Gayle Fitzpatrick, Treasurer Vicki Hardy, Production Chair Peter Collins, Volunteer Chair Katrina Ileka and Membership Chair Corinne Stebner.
“I got a great team — they work hard,” Redding said. “I’m just the visionary. They do all that (other) stuff. My job is to create a motivating and inspiring environment. Their job is to figure out how to make it work. I cannot take the credit for it, and I won’t.”