A sea of unified voices delivering classic Christmastime songs at a high level is something pretty special.
And Don Newell wishes more folks would take the opportunity to participate. Newell heads up the Molalla Community Choir, which is getting ready to start practices for its Christmas season schedule and notes that it's not as easy to get folks to commit as it used to be.
"One thing we've noticed is that churches in the area have gone away from choirs and a lot of our people, in the past, would normally sing in the choirs," said Newell. "People are doing what I like to call 'self-entertainment' with the social media and all that. Those folks have a harder time committing to a time block.
"We work really hard to keep a very small time block," he added. "It's just the distractions of the day, of not connecting with your community. We try to make a real small footprint on people's lives."
That's why the choir continues to reach out into the area for voices the last few years. Singers come from Oregon City, Silverton, Woodburn, Estacada, Colton, Portland and "right now we're getting some great Canby folks joining us," he said.
During the holiday season, the choir not only performs in Molalla, but also sings at the Oregon Garden and participates in a concert in Canby.
"We really enjoy sharing with the communities," Newell said.
And what sets the choir apart is that is delivers a high-quality performance of some classic holiday songs in a rural setting, something Newell said is hard to find.
"There's a lot of great music at Christmastime and so much of it is popular music," he said. "There's not a lot of opportunity in rural America to participate in some of the classic and really rich choral music. It's really exciting because there's a lot of depth there."
Newell, who has a degree in music, sees the opportunity to deliver these types of musical arrangements in Molalla and the surrounding area as something special to experience. But to do it justice, he needs the voices to carry it off.
"To bring this classical atmosphere is tremendous," he said. "We center on that. For a lot of people, it's an opportunity to go back and enjoy something they did in college or high school – to sing at a higher level. Again, it's really wonderful to be able to do that in the rural area. There's great music like this in Portland, but we have a piece of it in Molalla."
Newell noted that potential singers don't have to be able to read music to participate. There are no auditions, just come at will and sing – stand next to someone and follow all along.
"It's all part of what we do," said Newell.