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The Villages
Friday, May 24, 2024

Mutual love of music serves as main motivation for The Villages Pops Chorus

The Villages Pops Chorus and Director Bill Davis are motivated by the same feelings.

“It’s the love of music,” he said Monday before the Chorus’ 10th Anniversary concert. “In music, harmony is what really moves me the most. The goal in choral music is to have many voices sound as one.”

During the anniversary concert Davis, as usual, was ready for anything – even an eclipse.
“I want to thank you for choosing us over the eclipse,” Davis told the packed audience during the afternoon performance in North Lake Presbyterian Church.

Bill Davis celebrates the Villages Pops Chorus 10th anniversary
Bill Davis celebrates the Villages Pops Chorus 10th anniversary.

Even the setlist had a couple of timely songs, including “Blue Moon.”
“I think that a song about the moon is totally appropriate for today,” Davis cracked. “We looked for a song about the moon blocking the sun but couldn’t find any.”
Then came another, “It’s a Most Unusual Day.” Davis said that number was perfect for “singing while an eclipse is going on.”

The Villages Pops Chorus was in dynamic voice during Monday's concert
The Villages Pops Chorus was in dynamic voice during Monday’s concert.

This was a milestone concert for Davis and the Villages Pops Chorus, which has 155 active members. Over the past decade the group has had about 300 members, Davis said.
The Pops Chorus has also raised $270,000 for charity.  “Ten years ago, we never expected to raise that much money,” Davis said. “It just kept piling up and it’s wonderful to be able to help so many people.”

Music is what drives Davis and accompanist Jo Ann Hanebrink. They –along with Sue Davis, Bill’s wife, and the Chorus’ administrator- have been with the group for a decade. Like the Chorus members, they are volunteers.
All were in top form during the opening number, “We Are Family.” As is tradition, the Pops Chorus members marched to the stage during that number.

There was smooth harmony on “Blue Velvet,” and a jumping beat on “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

Joe Di Leo sports a fedora and makes like Frank Sinatra
Joe Di Leo sports a fedora and makes like Frank Sinatra.

The Pops Chorus has long been a showcase for talented soloists. Joe Di Leo made like Frank Sinatra, as he sported a black fedora and offered a swinging, “I’ve Got the World on a String.”
Ann Stockton put some wistful life into “It Might as Well Be Spring.” Alexandra Rae added emotion to “The Man I Love.”
Bill Davis took his turn at setting a Sinatra mood on the “Summer Wind.” Other soloists included Jack Strite on “If Ever I Would Leave You,” and  Bonnie Williams’ “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”

Alexandra Rae sings a Gershwin tune
Alexandra Rae sings a Gershwin tune.

One of the reasons for the Pops Chorus success is Davis’ musical knowledge. He was in choral groups in high school and college but also played in numerous rock bands. He has a way of combining pop, rock, showtunes and classical music.

That diversity was on display during the anniversary concert. It included everything from Shelly Fabares’ “Johnny Angel” to the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart classic, “My Funny  Valentine.”
The Chorus had a lot of fun mashing up doo-wop and big band styles on “A Sunday Kind of Love.”
The concert reached a climax with a stirring rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” It closed with two numbers that captured what the Villages Pops Chorus is all about: “That’s What Friends Are For,” and “Everybody Rejoice.”

Ann Stockton belts out a song during the Villages Pops Chorus concert
Ann Stockton belts out a song during the Villages Pops Chorus concert.

It takes many people to make that strategy work, including the often-overlooked Pops Chorus Band. They are led by Jo Ann Hanebrink on piano.
The lineup includes: Dennis St. Germain, drums; Don Hainlen, bass; Kevin Anderson, guitar; Bob Wilson, keyboards.
Also: Dave Czohara, trumpet; Keith Miland, trumpet; Mary Lund, trombone, Tom Scheponik, Roy Nicolosi, Tom Benner, reeds, and Diane Morrison, flute.

Tony Violanti writes about music and entertainment for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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