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Photos courtesy of Wayne Fawbush

The Big Choir meets for two seasons every year: from August/September to December, and again from January to May/June. At the end of every season we usually perform two concerts, one in Montpelier for our loyal local fans, and one elsewhere—often in Vermont, but sometimes out of state. The choir combines soul, jazz, blues, and original and traditional gospel music to produce an exuberant sound. We sing! We clap! We shout! We play! We laugh! Sometimes we cry. We do all this at Trinity United Methodist Church of Montpelier, Vermont, during our Monday night rehearsals from 7:00 to 8:45 p.m. The Big Choir is un-auditioned, and we learn all our music by rote, so reading music is not required. To join Big Choir the only thing you need to do is show up on Monday night! (Although an email introducing yourself beforehand would not be remiss.) All are welcome to join who wish to share in this glorious musical tradition.

Our Director is John Harrison, and our band members are Ira Friedman on piano, John Ryan on bass, Keith Gibson on drums, Andric Severance on organ, and Jay Ekis on guitar.

Over the years we have performed under the gospel tent at the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vermont; at Montpelier’s First Night New Year’s Eve celebration; and at the Farmer’s Night concert series at the Vermont State House. We have been privileged with the opportunity to sing with Tammy Fletcher, Vermont’s homegrown blues great, and with gospel legend Fontella Bass and jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie. We sing at benefits, church services, prisons, nursing homes, and memorial services, but the heart of what we do happens at our Monday evening rehearsals. It’s there that we share with each other, open our hearts, take chances, and witness the movement of the spirit. When all of that carries over into our concerts, we are all blessed.