Serving The Carolina Foothills since 1973
By Art Brown

In January 1973 a community leader, Ken Lackey, suggested to the Rotary Club of Tryon Board of Directors that they sponsor a spring “Festival of Music”. His concept included three objectives: (1) to provide opportunities for persons interested in music to perform publicly, (2) to provide entertainment and promote music appreciation in the community, and (3) to use the net proceeds for Rotary Foundation scholarships.

Finding support for his recommendation, Lackey recruited a mixed chorus of thirty-five singers as the centerpiece of this show under the direction of Tom Grenfell.

Public response to the Spring program was enthusiastic and the Rotary Club of Tryon then decided to sponsor a chorus for the 1973 Christmas season.

Although the early Christmas concerts were presented as a gift to the community, ticket sales became necessary to cover expenses and provide funds for scholarships.

Thus, a pattern was established, and the chorus became a continuing semi-annual project of the Rotary Club of Tryon. The chorus gradually grew in size under Tom Grenfell with Anton Cedervall, Inky Cloud and Mary Ann Kilver serving as subsequent directors.

It was in 1977, however, that the chorus began to assume new dimensions. Joseph Erwin, a professional musician and chorus director, had moved to the Tryon area and was soon enlisted to conduct the chorus. He promptly introduced his philosophy of pursuing truth and beauty through the music of the world’s great composers and the composition of the Christmas concerts always reflected his high standards. The community, with its varying artistic tastes, was consequently able to enjoy music symbolic of the spiritual quality of Christmas in addition to the light, colorful and popular nature of the Spring concert.

Betty Brewer, another fine musician, agreed to conduct the spring concerts and together with George Finnie as production manager, developed a pattern of incorporating variety specialties along with show tunes and familiar music. The result has been fun-filled hearty entertainment. Our community has always benefited from outstanding musical talent, including its chorus directors.

Jan Impey served as an exciting “resident” director of the Chorus from 1997-2007, bringing her high standards of quality music to the Spring and Christmas concerts over the years. Upon her retirement and a return to home in Illinois, she was to be replaced by many local favorites such as Crys Armbrust, Richard Kennedy, Mark Schweitzer, Lesley Bush, Candy Wilson, Ben Chumley, Anna Marie Kuether, Susan Lyle, and Dell Morgan. Amazingly, the vibrant accompanist has been Pam McNeil since joining Impey in 1997.

A common phrase repeated after each concert was it was the best concert ever. Sadly, because of Covid-19, that phrase was not heard in 2020 or 2021.

The Community Chorus of 75-90 singers is often embellished by special musical compliments – Russ Martin Jazz Ensemble, Skeeziks Celtic Band, North Greenville University Percussion, Ol’ 74 Jazz Bank, Polk County High School Vocal Expressions, Stewart Chamber Players, Blue Ridge Ringers, Greenville Pipes & Drums, Cathedral Brass and many others, plus numerous soloists and ensembles.

The Community Chorus has a three-fold purpose: to provide a quality opportunity for choral singing, to provide the community with an outstanding musical performance, and to provide financial support to the Rotary Club of Tryon Scholarship Fund.

Twenty students are recipients of scholarships each year. All of the ticket sales go to the Rotary Club of Rotary Club of Tryon Foundation Scholarship Fund while volunteer contributions go to the autonomous non-profit Community Chorus to support the expenses of presenting concerts.

The following was prepared on December 29, 2017 and is in the process of being updated. The source is unknown but we would like to give credit.

Community Chorus sidebar
Directors and Accompanists

The Community Chorus has been graced with a group of talented directors and accompanists since its founding in 1973. Directors of note are Betty Brewer, Joseph Erwin and Janice Impey, who each served for more than 10 years as directors. Also of note is Pam McNeil, who has been the primary accompanist since 1996, but also performed as accompanist on occasion as early as 1978.

    Tom Grenfell 7 performances between 1973 and 1979
    Anton Cedarvall 2 performances in 1976
    Inky Cloud 2 performances in 1977 and 1996
    Joseph Erwin 14 performances between 1978 and 1994
    Mary Ann Kilver 1 performance in 1978
    Betty Brewer 11 performances between 1981 and 1990
    Ned Davis 2 performances in 1988 and 1989
    Joseph Ambrust 2 performances in 1991 and 1993
    Mary Davis 1 performance in 1992
    Beverly Ward 1 performance in 1993
    Lara Miller Jump 4 performances between 1994 and 1996
    Janice Impey 16 performances between 1997 and 2008
    Lesley Bush 8 performances between 2003 and 2017
    Christ Ambrust 3 performances between 2008 and 2010
    Richard Kennedy 3 performances between 2009 and 2011
    Mark Schweizer 3 performances in 2011 and 2013
    Candace Wilson 3 performances in 2014 and 2015
    Anna Marie Kuether 2 performances in 2016 and 2017
    Ben Chumley 1 performance in 2016
    Maurine Smith 6 performances between 1973 and 1975
    Carole Bartol 1 performance in 1976
    Pam McNeil More than 45 performances between 1978 and 2017