Women’s choir in Marysville driven to be the best

MARYSVILLE – Cheryl Hoven of Wenatchee drives to Marysville every week to sing in a choir.

Not just any choir. Sonus Boreal is made up of about 30 women ages 22-73, many of whom were students of former Marysville-Pilchuck High School teacher Stuart Hunt. Hoven wasn’t in his choir, but two of her daughters were.

Hoven was the “choir mom” when her kids were in school, but now she’s in the chorus with them. Hoven’s actually treasurer for the group, while daughter Jenny Hammer is president and daughter Katie Gutenkauf is in charge of fundraising.

BethAnne Counsellor, said the students developed a special relationship with Hunt because he helped them orchestrate a protest at a school board meeting to bring art and music classes back into the schools.

Ten years ago, some of Hunt’s former students got together to celebrate his retirement from M-P after 12 years there. “It was a golden time for choirs,” Hunt said of his time at M-P.

They enjoyed it so much they started a community choir, and Hunt agreed to lead them. “This was not 16- and 17-year-old girls with boyfriends and pimple problems,” Hunt said. “These were mature women with a glorious sound.”

The nonprofit choir will share that sound Dec. 21 at 2 and 6 p.m. at Marysville United Methodist Church. They rehearse there Monday nights from 7-9:30.

Hammer, who helped form the choir, is married and homeschools three kids ages 6-18 so singing in the choir is her chance to get away and do something for herself.

Clarissa Ching joined the group about six years ago because she wasn’t being challenged enough in her church choir. “I really needed a challenge,” she said, adding her favorite event is singing in Leavenworth at Christmas.

Hunt, who has 47 years of experience in music education, said he has expertise working with female voices so they are able to work quickly. They sing all types of music, including pop, classical, rock, jazz, a capella, ballads, gospel and more. Many of the singers like to do songs in other languages, even if they don’t understand the words. While he retired from M-P, Hunt still substitutes and has his own music publishing company that teaches choirs how to read music. The old way is “complicated and clunky,” he said.

Hunt has traveled all over the world with choirs. His favorite performance was an impromptu one at Notre Dame in Paris, France.

“It was packed with 1500 tourists,” he said.

“It wasn’t just the listeners who got goose bumps. It was the ideal performance – no barriers between the audience and the performers, enjoying great art together.”

Hunt said he feels blessed to conduct the choir.

“We work them hard. Great art is not easy. But it keeps your soul alive when the magic happens,” he said.

The concert

Today’s concerts will feature Shelia Houlahan, a Metropolitan Opera Competition District Award winner. She has performed at The Venetian in Las Vegas and with the Seattle Symphony. She is also an actress, playing a supporting role this fall in “The Little Things,” starring Denzel Washington.

Tickets at the door or at northernsoundchoirs.org

Tryouts are open to all women. The next auditions will be Jan. 6 from 6-8 p.m. at the church; northernsoundchoirs@gmail.com

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