By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
Prior to the tipoff of the University of Findlay’s mens basketball game against Ohio Dominican on Feb. 13, the 50 North choir will be singing the national anthem in Croy Gymnasium on campus.
It’s the debut performance for the newly resurrected S20 (Seniors Singing Out). Director Celia Stockton said the group is back together after several years.
“I’m so proud of us and the senior center and the seniors. You don’t have to stop singing, ever. So this is the proof in the pudding,” she said.
Stockton started the choir in 2016 as a volunteer at 50 North. But a different job the following year brought changes to her schedule. She wasn’t able to continue as director, and the choir disbanded.
Flash-forward a few years and Stockton is back, this time as the travel coordinator at 50 North.
“And I thought, ‘I just need to have this group together,'” she smiled.
Ron Rush of Findlay, for one, is happy about the choir being reestablished.
“I pretty much sign up for anything one of the Stocktons is leading,” he explained. (Celia’s husband, Harry, is a program coordinator at 50 North.) “Celia, she makes it great. She makes it very, very fun.”
The group has 22 members of varied backgrounds, coming from all areas of Hancock County. But “they all share a love of music,” Stockton said.
Alto Judi Herrin started out as a voice major in college. She left in her junior year and ultimately became a hairdresser.
“And then when I was 45 I had a stroke and completely forgot how to read music, even though I had played piano from the time I was 6 to 19. I just couldn’t remember anything,” she said.
Herrin went to St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, where Stockton was the music minister at the time.
“And I got started in choir and I got started in praise team and everything. And eventually I ended up in our Sisters group, St. Andrew’s Sisters (a singing group), and several times in the Christmas cantatas I’ve had big solos, so it’s been fun,” she said.
Music, said Herrin, has been rehabilitative for her.
“So it really is helping me relearn how to read music. That’s where the stroke hit, so I’m redeveloping that,” she said.
Stockton said singing has many benefits: physically, emotionally and socially. For example, singing exercises the lungs, improves sleep and posture, reduces stress and encourages creativity.
Choir practice is from 3-3:45 p.m. every Wednesday in the 50 North multipurpose room.
Stockton helps secure soloists for the UF basketball games, so when the choir got back together, she thought it would be the perfect venue for them to perform. The choir will perform a cappella, at about 6 p.m.
“We are right there on the floor with the team and all the fans. It’s very exciting,” she said.
A recent practice was spent rehearsing “The Star Spangled Banner,” with Stockton emphasizing phrasing and breathing. She also introduced something special: “It’s my little signature gesture that I do when I sing the national anthem, and I trained all my other soloists and choirs to do, and now it’s your turn. We will sing this with our hands over our hearts, and we will be standing up.”
And then on the final word, “brave,” the choir members will all point to the American flag.
“Everybody goes wild,” said Stockton. “Tears will start coming for you because it’s just so powerful, so we have to prepare ourselves for that.”
Stephen Cowan is looking forward to the event. He started as a tenor in the choir, “but they said they needed basses, so I’m going to try bass.”
The Findlay man sings in his church choir and with the Millstream Rhythm Band at 50 North.
“I enjoy singing, I really do,” he said. “I won’t say I’m good at it, but I enjoy it. It’s a fun group to be part of.”
Stockton said the choir will be teaming up with the Millstream Rhythm Band to do some performances out in the community. They’ll also sing in the cafe at 50 North.
“According to our little launch here, it looks like we’ll keep moving forward with continued performances,” she said. “I’m just so pleased.”