JANESVILLE—Good things come to those who wait, and good things also come in small packages.

For members of Janesville Choral Union and its most ardent followers, that statement rings true this year more than most.

Having canceled three performances since spring 2020, the 110-year-old music collective plans to return for its annual fall performance 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at Cargill United Methodist Church in Janesville.

At least, that’s the plan.

“I mean, if the (COVID-19) numbers continue to rise and the church says we are closing down ... oh dear, we are so crossing our fingers,” said Kristin Kresal, a 50-year Choral Union member who manages promotions for the group.

But when it does return, Choral Union will be about half its traditional size. Continued concerns about the pandemic have left many members willing to sit out shows until conditions greatly improve.

“I would say we’re between 35 and 40 singers right now, and normally it’s between 70 and 80,” Kresal said. “But it gives us the opportunity to space out our chairs a little further, and we’re able to hear ourselves a little better.”

“There are also worries because our membership is older, and they are a little more vulnerable (to COVID-19),” she said. “That doesn’t help.”

Singers also will abide by face-masking requirements for the program. Despite being provided special “singers masks” that provide more space near the mouth, the impediment poses a definite challenge.

“It’s difficult enough talking with a mask on, let alone singing,” Kresal said. “With singing, you need deeper breaths, and that’s more difficult with a mask in front of you.”

For those music fans who do venture out, reward will come in the form of a program focused on the masterworks of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Under the direction of director Richard Severing and associate conductor Marie Severing, the chorus will perform such selections as “Requiem,” “Regina Coeli (Rejoice Queen of Heaven)” and “Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, True Body).”

Guest pianist David Newman also will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major.

The concert also will honor Sue Blumer, longtime Choral Union singer, board member and chorus mentor.

In addition to her work with the chorus, Blumer is an accomplished singer and voice teacher, former choir director for St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Janesville, former director of music at Cargill and former organist at Trinity Episcopal Church, Janesville.

“Sue was a professor of voice at Milton College,” Kresal said. “When she retired, she became a chorus member. She became a great section leader, and people really learned a lot from her. She could answer a lot of questions like ‘How do you do this?’ or ‘How do you make your voice better?’ ‘How do you get past the strain of singing an entire concert’ or ‘How do you range?’ She would always help with that.

“And because she sang in classical literature—Italian, Spanish, French, German, Latin—she would help us with pronunciation and things like that,” Kresal added. “She just really became a mentor for the whole chorus.”

In addition to touring as a soloist throughout the U.S. and Europe, Blumer’s music resume includes being part of a symphonic choir that performed at Carnegie Hall and being a member of the Arundel Opera Theater in Maine.

Blumer also founded a private voice studio and taught hundreds of students, including many current members of Janesville Choral Union.

She also is a former director for Women of Note, a local women’s community chorus.


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