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Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Facebook friends rejoin Marysville teacher in new choir

Facebook friends rejoin Marysville teacher in new choir

  • Jennifer Ray leads the choir in sign language for one of their songs at the practice sessions for the Northern Sound Choirs.

    Annie Mulligan/For The Herald

    Jennifer Ray leads the choir in sign language for one of their songs at the practice sessions for the Northern Sound Choirs.

  • New choir membr Jenny Reynolds looks to director Stuart Hunt for instruction at a recent practice.

    Annie Mulligan/For The Herald

    New choir membr Jenny Reynolds looks to director Stuart Hunt for instruction at a recent practice.

  • Angelenna de Chatonnayree (center) and Kari Wheeler (right) look at music notations taken by Mandy Hegr (left) at choir practice.

    Annie Mulligan/For The Herald

    Angelenna de Chatonnayree (center) and Kari Wheeler (right) look at music notations taken by Mandy Hegr (left) at choir practice.

  • Jennifer Ray takes direction from director Stuart Hunt.

    Annie Mulligan/For The Herald

    Jennifer Ray takes direction from director Stuart Hunt.

  • Northern Sound Choirs conductor and artistic director Stuart Hunt keeps singers on beat during a recent rehearsal.

    Annie Mulligan/For The Herald

    Northern Sound Choirs conductor and artistic director Stuart Hunt keeps singers on beat during a recent rehearsal.

The power of the social network can kick-start a revolution, inspire an Academy-Award winning movie and ignite old flames.
In Marysville, Facebook created a choir.
It all started with Lakey Malan, a 1997 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, who was talking to a friend one day, trying to remember some details about a song the high school choir performed 15 years ago.
Just for the heck of it, Malan decided to go online and see if anybody remembered the song.
Bam. That's all it took.
"Within about 10 minutes, I had a big long thread of comments," Malan said.
From that point, Malan said the Facebook chatter turned to tracking down former Marysville-Pilchuck High School choir members from 1991 to 2004.
"And the thing just exploded," Malan said. "I got hundreds of responses from all over."
In a week, the former choir students organized a reunion -- not virtual but real -- that was held in November 2009. That reunion included a cyber-connection to a Marine Corps base in Okinawa so former choir member Darren Di Marco could participate via a laptop on a music stand.
During the reunion it was clear that the former choir students didn't want their singing to end but to begin again.
"Before we knew it, we were saying we have to keep doing this," Malan said.
By the end of December, a database exceeding 300 people was amassed, and the Northern Sound Choirs was launched.
Now, the Northern Sound Choirs -- also known as the Sonus Boreal Northern Sound Choirs -- is holding a spring concert May 22, and they are also planning a regional tour in June.
Northern Sound Choirs conductor and artistic director Stuart Hunt said it was "the click of a computer mouse that opened a new chapter of joy and fulfillment."
On a recent evening laughter resounded off the walls of the Marysville Church of the Nazarene as 30 choir members rehearsed.
Malan said during a rehearsal break that Facebook's far-reaching power did indeed reunite the former students. But Hunt's role as conductor is what made the Internet traffic go wacky.
In fact, there's a fan page that spawned from all this called "The Legacy of Stuart Hunt" that has a "like" list of 457 fans.
"When Facebook started, the floodgates opened," Malan said. "For me, Stuart was one of the most influential men in my life, and I know if he hadn't been there, I would have turned out totally different."
Choir member Loren Jenkins is a mother of two sons who were both members of Hunt's Marysville-Pilchuck High School choir. She credits Hunt with helping to make her sons successful adults.
"You don't have a choir if you don't have a good leader," said Jenkins, who has been singing in choirs since she was a kid. "He brings joy."
Jenkins, 56, is a graduate of Anacortes High School. She had been looking for a choir to join and when she heard Hunt was back in the game, she knew she had found her spot.
"I wanted something more meaty," Jenkins said. "His list of music, the variety, it's huge and it grabbed me."
Choir member Michelle Rogers, 28, agreed about Hunt's passion and skill set.
"We only have a rehearsal every three Mondays out of the month, but we sing like we've had a rehearsal every day," Rogers said.
In high school back in the 1960s, Hunt played in band and in the last three months of his senior year he was invited to sing in the choir. Hunt was hooked.
This is Hunt's 40th year conducting choirs, both public and private. He spent 18 years with the Quincy School District in eastern Washington and also conducted the Seattle Girls' Choir for 15 years.
The irony for Hunt about the birth of Northern Sound Choirs is that he "reluctantly joined the Facebook phenomenon."
"Our pastor told me, 'It's not about you,'" Hunt said.
No, it's about the music.
As Jenkins said, "The choir's future is limitless."
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or goffredo@heraldnet.com
About the choir
The Northern Sound Choirs invites women age 18 and older throughout Snohomish and Skagit counties. The nonprofit choir sings a variety of music, including 600 years of European choral music, jazz, pop, Broadway tunes, ensemble and solo, and barbershop.
For audition and further information call or send a text to 360-474-7672 or go to www.northernsound.org/#!.
Choir events
Garage and bake sale: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday at 2104 172nd Ave NE, Marysville. The choir is raising money to help defray the cost of its summer tour.
Spring concert: 3 p.m. May 22 at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, 5611 108th St. NE, Marysville. The choir sings with choir members from Marshall and Kent Prairie elementary schools. Minimum $5 per person donation for admission.



Story tags » Human InterestMusicMarysville

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