Boeing choir takes joy in music and charity

Michael Kysar has never worked for the Boeing Co., but he’s the exception in the group he leads. And when members gather, they don’t make airplanes.

The Boeing Employees Choir performs at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Cascadian Place, 3915 Colby Ave. in Everett. Suggested donation is $5. For information, call 425-339-2225. To learn about the choir, go to

Their product is more ephemeral than that. Their output is measured in song.

Kysar is conductor of the Boeing Employees Choir. Since the 1940s, it’s been performing around the region and overseas.

“We give the rest of the world a human face for Boeing. We have friends all around the world,” said Kysar, of Bellevue, choir leader since 1982.

The choir, now with about 35 members, will perform in Everett at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Cascadian Place, a retirement community at 3915 Colby Ave. The concert is open to the public. A nonprofit organization, the choir lends support to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other charities.

“This will be their sixth concert here,” said Janet O’Neal, manager at Cascadian Place with her husband, Terry. “It’s a tradition, a favorite part of the holidays.”

The choir, which does about 20 shows a year, covers a range of music, secular to sacred, seasonal favorites to classical. “It’s just beautiful,” O’Neal said. “Michael Kysar has a way with people. He engages the audience.”

All singers are eligible to audition, although priority is given to Boeing employees or retirees and their families.

“We’ve had everything from technical writers and engineers – lots of engineers – to office personnel, factory workers and one inspector,” said Kysar, a Microsoft employee with a master’s degree in voice performance.

Donna Appelquist Spencer drives from her home in Snohomish to the Boeing Field area south of downtown Seattle for Tuesday night practices.

“I’m a former employee. My last job was as a project management assistant,” Spencer said. Leaving the company didn’t mean leaving the choir. She’s been a member some 20 years.

“I love the Boeing choir,” said Spencer, described by Kysar as a marvelous soprano. “We do a lot of singing at retirement homes, and I love ministering to the elderly.”

For Ron Dorband, the choir has broadened horizons. “When I joined, my youngest daughter was 4. At 16, she was showing talent in singing,” said Dorband, of Kent, vice president in charge of marketing and scheduling for the choir.

Adina Dorband joined, and at 19 she is now studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Dorband, in quality assurance at Boeing and a first tenor in the choir, played oboe in high school. He studied music education in college. But his father was a Boeing engineer, and he hired on with the company.

“Musical people, no matter what they’re doing in life, the pressure builds up, and you have to express it,” Dorband said.

He went to Europe with the choir in 2002. The group has given financial support for reconstruction of the Frauenkirche church in Dresden, Germany, bombed to rubble in World War II.

“A group of us are going back to Dresden in 2006 for a re-dedication,” Dorband said. “We tend to take for granted the international impact of the Boeing Co. The Boeing name really does open doors.”

At home, the choir supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Songs of Love, which provides music therapy to seriously ill children. Members find joy in helping and in music.

Spencer, a soloist Monday for Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum,” is still laughing about a performance a week ago. She forgot the words.

“Everything escaped me. I was listening to the piano thinking it could trigger something. I had sung it many years, but I didn’t have my music.

“I’m looking at Mike and taking words from the chorus. At the end, he said, ‘That was the greatest performance you ever did.’”

Kysar said choir members “are wonderful to work with. They’re very serious about their fun. In some places,” he said, “we’re known as the world’s oldest youth choir.”

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or

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