For more than 25 years, people on the North Shore have joined their voices together in song with the North Shore Voices choir.
"It started as a community sing," said long-time choir member Brenda Larson. "We started to get a bunch of us together and we thought it would be fun to perform concerts at the Reunion Hall. So we got the choir director at the time to take us on to organize us into an actual choir."
That was back when the group went by "Silver Bay Community Choir." The name was changed 15 years ago to better reflect the choir's makeup.
"We realized we have members from Two Harbors, Isabella, Schroeder, Tofte and more, so to be more inclusive we changed the name to include more of the shore," said Laurie Kallinen, choir secretary.
Every year the choir prepares two showcase concerts. In the fall, Larson said they tend to focus on holiday and winter-themed music for a Christmastime concert.
After a brief holiday break, the choir resumes weekly practice the Sunday after the Super Bowl to prepare for the spring concert. The spring event tends to focus on pop music.
"So this spring we're focusing on music from the 1960s and 70s," Larson said. "It's been fun to check out the music."
At rehearsal, singers are split into the four traditional choir sections: sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. Director Mary Carroll will introduce a new piece to the group and lead them through it before checking in to see if the group approves. In between pieces, members share stories and laughs.
"It’s such a fun group to sing with," said Judy Waxlax, choir president. "I’ve been part of the group for around 14 years, since I moved to town. I sought to join a group like this as a way to get to know people around me, and I couldn’t have found a more welcoming group. We've become like a family."
And like many families, the group constantly ebbs and flows. They welcome new members and mourn when people move on.
"Some people come in and stay for a season or two, but then have to quit," Larson said. "We'll have people come back because they miss it so much. And sometimes we've had old members pass away, and we've gathered to sing at their memorial services."
Rehearsals for the spring performances have just started. Kallinen said it's still early enough in the season for newcomers to join. Some experience sight-reading music is helpful, she said, but not necessary.
"The biggest thing is that you enjoy singing," Kallinen said. "That's what keeps us going, that love of singing together."
The North Shore Voices choir meets every Sunday evening in the William Kelley choir room in Silver Bay at 6 p.m. The community choir is open to all ages and averages 25-30 singers per season.