Coles County Chorus seeks members

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The Coles County Chorus will be hosting a guest night at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church of Mattoon.

This guest night will coincide with their regular rehearsal, which takes place every Tuesday night.

Doug Finkbiner, vice president of marketing for the chorus, said the first part of the guest night will consist of participants meeting with one of the Coles County Chorus directors.

“They will sing with them to figure out which part they can sing,” he said.

After that, if they feel comfortable enough, attendees are able to get up on risers with member of the chorus to sing with them for the evening.

“It’s not asking for a commitment,” Finkbiner said. “This is a one night thing, but if they want to come back that would be great.”

Each of the choruses consists of four parts, as in a barbershop quartet. There is the lead, which usually sings melody; the bass, which is the lowest part; the tenor, which is the high part; and the baritone that sings the middle part and fills out the chord.

Because of their barbershop style, there are some misconceptions about the group, such as those who think it is merely a quartet made of four men.

“We are a barbershop chorus,” Finkbiner explained. “On any given night, we have 20 to 30 men.”

He said people keep calling them a quartet despite their large size. The chorus does have different quartets that are part of the chorus.

“Four guys will get together out of the chorus, who will sing in a quartet,” Finkbiner said.

As of now, the group has four quartets, all made up of men from the chorus.

The Coles County Chorus has competed often during September in a championship for choruses and quartets.

The group finished in second place three years ago, and Finkbiner said members are usually in the top five choruses.

The choir is also involved in the Charleston community and has connections with Eastern as well.

“The chorus was founded by two EIU professors who are now retired,” Finkbiner said. “And our new district president, who won major barbershop awards, graduated from EIU. We do a lot with EIU.”

Last fall, the group hosted Youth in Harmony, where 200 to 300 high school students were on Eastern’s campus for a daylong harmony workshop.

The group also has an annual spring show in June in the Dvorak Concert Hall.

“We are very active in the community,” Finkbiner said.

Members also have a Christmas Concert and Lentn for Easter, which both have religious songs. All the money from these concerts goes to local food pantries and homeless shelters.

The Chorus has given up to thousands of dollars to these charities in the last several years.

At guest night, the group is looking for a variety of members, like what they have now.

“We have high schoolers, junior high schoolers, a retired EIU professor who is about 90 years old,” Finkbiner said. “We run the gamut—we have all ages, all professions.”

There are no real auditions at the guest night.

“This is not like auditions for EIU music, where you stand in front of a panel,” Finkbiner said.

They just have to sing for the director to gage their voice.

One thing the chorus is looking for, however, is someone who can sing in key.

“If they can’t sing in tune, that’s going to be a problem,” Finkbiner said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].