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Temple choir opening Monarch’s game

Vivian Wills, left, and Felicia Sartell, both of Temple, sing in the Temple Congregational Church Choir on Sunday during the installation of the church's new minister, the Rev. Linda Hey, on Sunday. Courtesy photo

Vivian Wills, left, and Felicia Sartell, both of Temple, sing in the Temple Congregational Church Choir on Sunday during the installation of the church's new minister, the Rev. Linda Hey, on Sunday. Courtesy photo

The Temple Congregational Church choir is a small but close-knit group of parishioners that gather once a week to practice their repertoire of hymns, which they perform every week during church services. But this Saturday, they’ll be performing for a slightly larger audience than usual: a crowd of hockey fans at the Manchester Monarchs next home game .

A Monarchs representative contacted the church administrator, Patti Doyle, back in September to see if the church would be interested in lending their choir to perform “God Bless America” to open the game to the Monarch’s third annual Faith and Family Fun Night, when the Monarchs are set to face off against the Hershey Bears.

“It’s exciting to be out there. It’s nice to showcase our community and our church,” said one choir member, Jennifer Daler of Temple, in an interview at the Temple Congregational Church on Sunday, following the service. “We’re getting excited to do new things and be more present in the community.”

Back in September when the choir was first approached about performing at the game, they also lost their choir director, and have been operating without one ever since. They hope now that the church has just named a new permanent minister, the Rev. Linda Hey of Milford , they will be able to focus on acquiring a new director and forming a new direction for the church’s music program.

Usually the choir is 10 members strong, though a few extra members will be joining in for Saturday’s performance. But being a small group isn’t a disadvantage, pointed out choir member Helen Emma of New Ipswich. In fact, it is one of their strengths as the singers have all become very attuned to each other over the years they’ve been together. Emma has seen the choir shrink and grow over the more than 40 years she’s been a member, and said that over time a special bond forms.

“I think when you see each other every week, and we sing together in rehearsal and service and at weddings, you really begin to click,” she said.

“Singing together creates community,” agreed Daler. “Listening to each other sing creates community. And when it’s such a small group, you have to listen more to each other, especially now that we don’t have a director.”

Choir member Vivian Wills of Temple agreed. “We’ve always been a very cohesive group,” she said Sunday. “One thing I’ve always marveled at is if it were a larger group I could never imagine us being on pitch. It always amazed me when we do something a cappella, and when the music comes in we’re always on pitch. That’s a remarkable thing for a small, amateur chorus.”

The singers will be getting a small boost in membership for their performance at the Monarchs game as a few members have come out of the woodwork to join the choir for the occasion. Including the church’s newly installed minister, the Rev. Hey.

Hey does not usually perform with her church choirs, she said in an interview Sunday, but wanted to show her support for the endeavor.

“We are a small church in a small community. Any way we can connect with other towns is great,” Hey said. “We’re hoping to continue to make connections with the larger community moving forward. But what’s most important to me is that we have a good time.”

The Temple Congregational Church Choir will be performing at the Verizon Arena in Manchester at 7 p.m. To purchase tickets, see www.manchestermonarchs.com or call 626-7825. The choir rehearses Thursday nights at 7:15 p.m., and is open to any interested residents who wish to join.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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