All posts in “Choir”

51st Annual Patriotic Celebration

Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

We hope you will join us for the 51st Annual Patriotic Celebration — as we continue the tradition of celebrating our heritage, honoring our Veterans and Military and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ!

The program will feature a large choir and full orchestra presenting our favorite Patriotic songs. A free dessert reception will follow each evening’s program. We will have displays from Local Veteran Organizations for you to peruse, as well.

A free-will offering will be collected during the program and donated to local Veteran Non-Profits.

Childcare available for children age 5 and under.

 

JOIN THE CHOIR

 

Community-Choir-Festival-2020

Community Choir Festival 2020

Sing like never before!

Be a part of Rockford’s largest community choir and experience the joy and energy of community worship through a two-day choral workshop and concert directed by Dr. Gary Bonner.

Workshop: 7–9:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday
Free Public Concert: 6 p.m. Saturday

Who should attend the workshop:

Singers of all levels and musical backgrounds. Improve sight-reading and overall musical confidence. Learn voice techniques to sing more powerfully with less effort.

Directors. Refresh and inspire the singers you lead. Learn new conducting techniques and ways to choose music. Network with other directors.

Pastors. Better understand the role of choral music in worship and in the life of your congregation.

Cost:
$30/individual (includes Saturday lunch)
Discounts for groups of 10 or more. Contact Renee below.

 

REGISTER NOW

 

More info:
Renee Cooper, 815-877-7046, reneec@firstfreerockford.org

Dr. Gary Bonner (bonnermusic.net) teaches choral workshops nationwide. He was the founding dean of the School of Music at California Baptist University, directing the University Choir and Orchestra. Prior to that, at Azusa Pacific University, he was dean of the School of Music and director of the University Choir and Orchestra. Under his direction, the APU Choir performed at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Disney Symphonic Spectacular. Dr. Bonner was the first American to conduct at the International Church Music Festival in Oberammergau, Germany, and he also has conducted the 2,000 voices and orchestra of the Disneyland Candlelight Procession.

DOWNLOAD CONCERT FLYER

 

Choir Festival: Q&R with Dr. Gary Bonner

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read

 

In advance of the Community Choir Festival March 6-7 at First Free Rockford, we spoke via email with workshop leader Dr. Gary Bonner.

What should attendees expect from this workshop? What could change for them?

If we do our jobs well, the singers should be energized, encouraged, motivated and excited. We always hope they will become better music readers, be more understanding of what their role in the body is, and hopefully, understand their role in ministry better. Read More

Wrestling with a masterpiece

A writer crumples under the weight of Handel’s Messiah, until …

By Jessi Uran 

What on earth was I thinking? I can’t write this.

I stared at the computer screen for what seemed like the 50th time in three weeks. I’d scribbled research notes on three different pages and formed five different outlines, only to fill a garbage can with what I emphatically told my husband was “mediocre rubbish, not worthy of a garbage can.” (Dramatic much?)

Writer’s block is not uncommon for me. But this was different. It was less of a block and more of an unscalable, cement wall. The task was simple, really: Write about Handel’s Messiah. I could take it any direction I wanted and write in whatever form. There were no expectations, no criteria. Just a deadline.

Autographed composition draft of ‘Amen Chorus’ from British Library Treasures

Not only did my father used to play Handel’s Messiah every Christmas season on our family’s living room stereo, but I also had heard it performed live last year, in the annual concert by the Rockford Choral Union. Listening to the product of their countless hours of practice and dedication had left an indelible mark. To begin, there seemed no more festive way to usher in the season of Advent than in the reverent architecture of Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Experiencing history in this way, with people young and old, and hearing the scriptural account in such grandeur was awe-inspiring.

The concert left me with a conviction: In a somewhat disciplinary way, I need to carve time to sit, listen and behold the wonder of Immanuel. At Christmas, ironically, the act of sitting and listening often gets lost in all the things there are to do. Deep joy came from spending an afternoon doing nothing other than marveling corporately at the story of the Savior.

And then a moment of … what?! During a Part 2 tenor solo from Lamentations — “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow” — a woman up the aisle from me decided to clip all 10 fingernails. At the same instant, a man four rows up raised his hands in complete rapture. I judged Madame Fingernails immediately, but days later I began to wonder: How many awe-deserving things do I treat just as flippantly? Read More

Patriotic Celebration marks 50th milestone

Our annual Patriotic Celebration received more buzz than ever this year as we celebrated 50 years of honoring our military heroes and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ.

To help recognize the big milestone, we invited all former choir and orchestra directors back for the celebration. We’ve had six directors in total during that time:

  • Bruce Erickson (1970-1983)
  • Otis Skillings (1984-1989)
  • Doug Thiesen (1990-1998)
  • Renee Cooper (1999 to 2001)
  • Kristyn Thor (2002)
  • Eric Walker (2003-2007)
  • Renee Cooper (2008 to present)

Renee Cooper, who serves as our classic worship director, was our director again this year and is the longest-serving director in the group. Bruce Erickson, our first director, attended this year’s festivities, and a few others were unable to attend but did send us videos sharing wonderful memories of the event.

According to Bruce, Patriotic Celebration started in 1970 as a way to bring together a divided country/community during the Vietnam War. It was a positive offering and initially took place at the Sinnissippi Park Music Shell – sometimes after the Fourth of July and sometimes in June. The celebration began with one night, was eventually expanded to three nights, and then scheduled for two nights once it moved to the current First Free Rockford main campus.

In addition to special outreach for past directors, we also invited all former choir and orchestra participants to celebrate with us this year. We had people join us from many states, including Texas, Florida, Michigan and South Carolina. More than 200 volunteers total helped organize and participated in the event, and over 2,100 people attended the celebration performances.

The color guards from the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department and the Rockford Police Department presented the colors both nights, and our procession of veterans was once again a highlight for the crowd. A freewill offering collected during the program are being divided between three local veterans’ nonprofits: The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

50th Patriotic Celebration

50th Patriotic Celebration – Saturday

Join us for our 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration.

Friday and Saturday, June 28t and 29 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

We hope you will join us for the 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration – as we continue the tradition of celebrating our heritage, honoring our Veterans and Military and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ!

The program will feature a large choir and full orchestra presenting our favorite Patriotic songs.  We will be reminiscing and hearing from the Music Directors that have continued this tradition through the years.  A free dessert reception will follow each evening’s program.  We will have displays from Local Veteran Organizations for you to peruse, as well.

A free-will offering will be collected during the program.  This year – the offering will be divided between 3 local Veteran Non-Profits:  The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation, and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

Childcare available for children age 5 and under.

Volunteer Info
50th Patriotic Celebration

50th Patriotic Celebration – Friday

Join us for our 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration.

Friday and Saturday, June 28t and 29 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

We hope you will join us for the 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration – as we continue the tradition of celebrating our heritage, honoring our Veterans and Military and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ!

The program will feature a large choir and full orchestra presenting our favorite Patriotic songs.  We will be reminiscing and hearing from the Music Directors that have continued this tradition through the years.  A free dessert reception will follow each evening’s program.  We will have displays from Local Veteran Organizations for you to peruse, as well.

A free-will offering will be collected during the program.  This year – the offering will be divided between 3 local Veteran Non-Profits:  The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation, and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

Childcare available for children age 5 and under.

Volunteer Info

Community Choir Festival 2019

Register Now

 

First Free Rockford is once again hosting a Community Choir Festival with Dr. Gary Bonner. If you like to sing, then this is for you! On Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23, singers from all around the region will come together in one mighty chorus, and we want you to join us! Rehearsals are Friday evening 7:00–9:30 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Then on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. there will be a free Community Choir Concert.

Singers

Don’t miss the thrill of being a part of this large community choir made up of singers of all ages from all over the mid-west. We will sing, laugh, and learn together. The weekend culminates with a free concert for our community.

For Singers of all levels and musical talents. Everyone learns something!

Directors

If you are looking to infuse joy, energy, and passion into your music program, then this is a weekend that you and your singers simply shouldn’t miss!

Pricing

REGISTER NOW!Lunch on Saturday is included in registration fees below.

EARLY BIRD RATE – thru Nov 30, 2018
$25 – Adults
$15 – Students (for Student Pricing -use Promo code CCF2019)

REGULAR RATEbeginning Dec 1, 2018
$30 – Adults
$20 – Students (for Student Pricing -use Promo code CCF2019)

If you have questions, please call Renee at 815-877-7046 or email her.

 

Videos from Last Year

 

Community Choir Festival

Community Choir Festival

Community Choir Festival

First Free Rockford is once again hosting a Community Choir Festival with Dr. Gary Bonner. If you like to sing – then this is for you!

Dr. Gary Bonner conducting the choir

On Friday and Saturday, February 2 & 3, singers from all around the region will come together in one mighty chorus, and we want you to join us! Rehearsals are Friday evening 7-9:30pm and Saturday 9am-3pm. (Lunch is included in your registration fee)

Then on Saturday at 6pm will be a free Community Choir Concert.

Singers:

Don’t miss the thrill of being a part of this large community choir made up of singers of all ages from all over the mid-west. We will sing, laugh, and learn together. The weekend culminates with a free concert for our community.

For Singers of all levels and musical talents. Everyone learns something!

Directors:

If you are looking to infuse joy, energy, and passion into your music program, then this is a weekend that you and your singers simply shouldn’t miss!

 

If you have questions, please call Renee Cooper at (815) 877-7046 or email reneec@firstfreerockford.org

 

Register Online

 

Choir receiving instruction

Dr Bonner

Chorale Workshop

JOIN US FOR THE 2017 COMMUNITY CHOIR FESTIVAL!

REGISTRATION

REGISTRATION BEGINS DECEMBER 1, 2016 Deadline to register is February 1, 2017

  • Early Bird Discount (if paid by Jan. 1, 2017): $5 off per singer
  • Regular Registration Fee (after Jan. 1, 2017): $30 Adult singers / $20 Students
  • Group Rate Groups of 10+ call for additional discount information!

SCHEDULE

Friday and Saturday Feb 10th – 11th:

  • Friday Rehearsal 7:00pm – 9:30pm
  • Saturday Rehearsal 9:00am. – 3:00pm (Lunch Provided)
  • Saturday Community Choir Concert 6:00pm FREE ADMISSION

SPECIAL GUEST

Bonners 2016
DR. GARY BONNER
Dr. Gary Bonner is an internationally recognized conductor and trainer of conductors. He has what is described as an “intangible magic” when it comes to creating choral music, a sound and experience that is related to the connection between the conductor, performers, and audience, creating an elusive, yet identifiable, quality which makes a performance come alive.  Dr. Bonner is in great demand as a teacher of both choir directors and singers. He has trained over 700 conductors in his intensive week-long conducting seminars and touched thousands in his weekend choir workshops which have been offered across the United States and Canada. In addition, Dr. Bonner has been regularly invited to offer workshops at major music conferences such as MusiCalifornia, Music Northwest, Christian Artists at Estes Park Colorado, Gospel Music Conference in Nashville, Music Minnesota, Hosanna Music Conference, Music Iowa, Spartanburg, Ridgecrest, Glorietta, Metro Music, and the National Church Music Conference.  His philosophy that music is for the masses, not just a select few, permeates his emphasis on communication and relationship through music.  Dr. Bonner and his wife Pat have been active in Christian ministry through music and teaching for the 55 years of their marriage.  It is our privilege to welcome Dr. Bonner back to First Free Rockford for another exciting Choir Workshop.

QUESTIONS

For further information contact:

Renee Cooper
Renee Cooper
Classic Worship Director
reneec@firstfreerockford.org
(815) 877-7046 x 6714

Notice: The main office is closed and all public gatherings are suspended until further notice.More Details