Rise Up Chorus brings harmony


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METUCHEN — The inaugural Rise Up Chorus’ Community Sing event was a success, with people young and old coming together through song.

“The fact that a group of people, most of whom had never met, were able to make music in such a short period of time made me want to do this again and tell my friends,” Diane Calello said.

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Rise Up Chorus set its sights high with their inaugural event on June 4 — a Community Sing that brought more than 60 people from all over the area to Metuchen for a one-time event of singing at St. Luke’s Church on Oak Avenue.

Under the direction of Matthew LaPine, Rise Up Chorus’ founder and artistic director and Edison resident, adults and youth got to know each other while making great music.

“Smiles were contagious throughout the afternoon,” LaPine said. “The Community Sing was a place where people felt comfortable to take risks and try something out of the ordinary.”

Participants of the event learned vocal technique to improve their singing, worked with professional choral directors, and enjoyed fellowship with other community members.

Calello said she thought the Rise Up Chorus was a great way to introduce children to healthy choral singing in a larger framework of community in contrast to the typical afterschool activity where they may only participate with their own peers.

Barbara Sanderman said LaPine is an extremely knowledgeable choral director and enthusiastic teacher.

“Another thing that makes this chorus so unique is its emphasis on community,” she said.

Rick Fortune said he was moved by the immediate connection that he felt with all of the Rise Up Chorus singers, most of whom he had never met.

Kathy Dalton said she has sung in choirs all her life but has never learned so much in such a short time.

“They took a group of people who didn’t know each other and made them sound like a well-rehearsed group in just a few hours,” she said. “It was so much fun.”

Mary Jane Connolly said she has loved to sing for 63 years.

“I have never been so challenged, while having so much fun,” she said.

With the help of the Rise Up Chorus Board of Trustees — Chris Bishop, Thomas DeLessio, Jessica LaPine, Michelle Schutz, Kathleen Spadafino and Tom Thomas — Rise Up Chorus, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is providing a community chorus in the area.

“No one will be turned away from Rise Up Chorus,” LaPine said. “There is a place in the organization for everyone.”

The organization offers a tuition-free music education experience to the youth and adults of the community.

“We work to break down socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural barriers that exist in our society [and] recognize and celebrate the good in others,” LaPine said.

Rise Up Chorus will start rehearsals on Sept. 15 with a Youth Chorus for students in grades 4-12 and an Adult Chorus for ages 18 and over.

The organization also offers a full slate of social programs, including an enrichment program for the youth that will take place concurrently with the Adult Choir rehearsal. Through the enrichment program, students will be given the opportunity to take special classes offered by local businesses and organizations including yoga, martial arts, dance and engineering programs for the youth in the organization.

There will also be peer tutoring sessions to give further leadership opportunities to the older youth in the program.

“Since it takes place during the Adult Chorus rehearsal, the enrichment program has the added benefit of allowing the parents of children to participate in Rise Up Chorus,” LaPine said.

The organization has also built a Peer2Peer program, partnering chorus members to create mentorship/apprenticeship opportunities based on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

To register for either the Youth Chorus or the Adult Chorus, visit www.RiseUpChorus.org or contact Matthew LaPine at mlapine@riseupchorus.org.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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