Dennis Boyd Jr. plays the piano during warm-ups for the Oxford Hills Community Choir on Monday evening at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris. Boyd secured a grant to form the choir, which will perform Dec. 6 at a benefit for Christmas for Teens, a local charity. Twenty-six singers, most of whom performed at last year’s benefit, attended Monday’s first rehearsal, and Boyd said he’s hoping for more. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

 

PARIS— In 2005, a community choir saved Dennis Boyd Jr.’s musical life. He had graduated with a music education degree, and found himself managing a security company.

“I was miserable out of my mind. My friend dragged me to this community choir rehearsal in South Berwick. I joined it, and it relit the fire for me. It took me a couple of years to get into teaching, but that choir kept me alive in that process,” said Boyd, choir director for MSAD 17.

On the night of September 30, the newly formed Oxford Hills Community Choir had its first rehearsal in the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s music room. According to Boyd, the idea for a year-round chorus had been incubating for some time.

A core group of singers already devoted their time to the annual Christmas for Teens Concert, benefiting a local charity that provides Christmas gifts for impoverished teens.  But the singers wanted more.

Money was a barrier. Pianist Danielle Tran already donated her time for the Christmas for Teens Concert, as did Boyd.

“Everyone was like, ‘why don’t we do this more?’ Money!” said Boyd.  “A community choir can do so many things for a community. It gives people a place to voice what they want to do. We have a fabulous every other year tradition of school and community shows, but after that’s done, what do you do?”

The financial barrier disappeared after Boyd applied for, and received, a $4,000 grant from the Oxford Hills Educational Association.  Boyd’s vision to have a dedicated community choir in the Oxford Hills Region began to take shape.

The choir’s first concert will be Christmas for Teens concert, then, Boyd hopes to do another Christmas concert somewhere in the community, where the audience will be invited to participate in Christmas caroling. Then, the choir will begin to prepare for another concert in April.

That comes as welcome news for Jaci Presby, a dedicated member of the Christmas for Teens Choir. Presby, along with her service dog Sophie, participated in the last ten years of the Christmas for Teens Concert. She said she always felt a void once the choir ended for the season.

“I’ve been asking them to do this for years,” said Presby. She was involved with choir in high school and used to own a dance studio. Presby said she counts down the days every year until the choir starts.

“I started bringing Sophie when my father first passed away…she comes with me everywhere I go, and we enjoy it so much. My mother has dementia at home, this is the only release I get for myself. I look forward to it every year and I have great friends here. They’re really supportive. It’s like family,” said Presby.

Jaci Presby, of Norway, holds her service dog, Sophie during the first Oxford Hills Community Choir on September 30. While Presby warmed up, Sophie laid down and took a snooze. Sun Journal/Jon Bolduc

 

And Boyd said he hopes to draw a diverse group of current and former students and dedicated older community members for this year’s choir. Anyone is welcome to show up and start rehearsing.

“Singing is a lifetime opportunity. Your lips will go, and you can’t play trumpet anymore. Your fingers will go, and you can’t play guitar anymore. But singing is something you can do almost all of your life,” said Boyd.

 

 

 

 


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