Greenbelt Combined Choir Rehearsal
The Greenbelt Combined Choir was formed in 1971 when choirs of Greenbelt Community Church and Mowatt United Methodist Church joined force. In 1972, St. Hugh’s choir, then under the direction of Jean Cook, also joined. In 1974, Cook became the director of the combined choir, and she has led the group ever since. Each year, the choir performs three concerts on Palm Sunday, at the Thanksgiving interfaith service, and at Christmas, all at the Greenbelt Community Church, and it sings on special occasions. This year, as part of the city’s 75th anniversary celebration, the Greenbelt Combined Choir will perform on Saturday, September 22 before an address by James Roosevelt, grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. On Thursday, I visited the group’s last rehearsal in the Community Center gym.
James Roosevelt will speak on Saturday in the Community Center gym, and the combined choir will perform from 2 to 2:30 p.m before his speech. The choir has been rehearsing every Thursday night since late June in the Greenbelt Community Church, with the last two rehearsals held here in the Community Center gym. This is the final practice before their performance.
Choir director Jean Cook has led the group for 38 years. She tells me after the rehearsal that in 2001 she actually retired from the choir and the group held a farewell party for her in June. Then 9/11 happened and she decided to return to lead the choir for that year’s Thanksgiving interfaith service. She has remained with the choir since then. However, after this concert, she will retire for the second time. She will continue to participate in the Thanksgiving service but will skip the Palm Sunday and Christmas concerts. The group has not been able to find a replacement for her yet. She also tells me that the choir has taken part in some special events through the years, including a GHI mortgage burning celebration and Pageant of Peace at the National Christmas Tree by the White House.
Because of her volunteer work with the Combined Choir, GIVES, Labor Day Festival, Boxwood Civic Association, Habitat for Humanity, and others, Jean Cook was named Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen in 2009.
Mayor Judith Davis is also a member of the choir.
The accompanist is Susan Breon.
There are currently 28 members including 20 women and 8 men.
A few choir members continue to rehearse after the group has been dismissed.
The choir will perform four numbers on Saturday from 2 to 2:30 p.m. in the Community Center gym. For those who are interested in singing in the Greenbelt Combined Choir, the rehearsals for the Thanksgiving Interdenominational Service will be on Thursday, November 8 and 15. Although the choir was formed in its early days by choirs of local Christian churches, any community member can join. The choir is also looking for a director to lead them in the Christmas concerts.