By Jeanette Wright

The Clackamas Print

Not everyone can join a chamber choir right off the bat, and some may require more experience. That’s where the beauty of a community choir comes in.

How is the community choir different from the chamber choir? The community choir is more casual, meeting two times per week instead of four, and with an easier-to-learn repertoire.

Kathleen Hollingsworth, director of choir at Clackamas Community College, has wanted to start a community choir for years but never had the time before this school year. This year she is starting up a community choir, the Renegade Gospel, that is open to faculty, staff and students.

“You don’t have to be a great singer,” said Hollingsworth, “just be able to sing in a group and really want to do it.”

Can’t read music? That’s fine. The songs can be taught by ear, and Hollingsworth hopes the accessibility of the community choir will encourage more people to join.

“It’d be so great to have more faculty and students that are not part of the music department,” said Hollingsworth. “Staff, friends, family, anyone that wants to join.”

Altogether, Hollingsworth plans to practice with a total of six rehearsals and perform three or four pieces. Practices begin Oct. 16, before the first of three concerts on Sunday, Nov. 5, after All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

The community choir is free, and Hollingsworth plans to sell concert tickets for $5 or on a “donations are appreciated” basis. The first concert will be held at the St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Gladstone at 6 p.m. “Posters with more information will be posted on bulletin boards around the CCC campus,” said Kevin Anspach, CCC brand manager.

The concert’s theme coincides with All Saints’ and All Souls’ weekend, presenting a wide variety of easy-to-learn pieces, from mournful tunes to rowdy gospel songs and assorted excerpts from famous requiems.

“All Saints’ All Souls’ is about honoring the dead,” said Hollingsworth, “and having some time with the people that have passed on.”

Hollingsworth has directed choirs for years, organizing and running the “Playa Choir,” which has presented at the annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada for the past 14 years. She said she hoped to start a community choir for a long time and to bring the inspirational experience of a big choir “out into the real world.”

When asked why she started the choir now, Hollingsworth said, “I think back in the day there used to be a community choir, and I’ve thought about it many times, but I just don’t have the time.” Hollingsworth’s idea for Renegade Gospel came from her experience at Burning Man. “I felt like I was just preaching to the choir there, and giving this wonderful Sunday-morning experience a non-dogmatic, very on-your-feet gospel- style inspirational but not religious service to people who have already been through this huge choir experience, and I was just kinda like, I gotta do something with this,” said Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth plans to continue through the next term, with a concert on Jan. 14, 2018 titled “Freedom Jazz Dance” as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. The set will be smaller— a jazz trio, a couple of choral numbers and some electronic music as rehearsals will start at the beginning of the term, a week before the performance date.

“It’s a really unifying experience,” said Maria McClish, a CCC student and member of the chamber choir. “There’s something really special about singing with other people.”

So, if the ‘renegade’ in you wants the choral experience but rebels at the thought of the time commitment, the Renegade Gospel choir is perfect.

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Jeanette Wright