Editorial: The Chorale’s a mainstay — let’s keep it that way

Lois Ross, left, leads the choir at a 2011 practice session of North Fork Chorale. (Credit: file photo)
Lois Ross, left, leads the choir at a 2011 practice session of North Fork Chorale. (Credit: file photo)

Members of the North Fork Chorale have never stopped performing in the singing group’s 78 years, with the exception of a time during World War II, when gas rationing made regular rehearsing difficult.

In all that time, attendees at their twice-annual concerts were always treated to a show, put on by their passionate and talent-rich neighbors.

And what shows they’ve been.

“If I don’t look out and see someone wiping away a tear at some point I haven’t really done my job,” Lois Ross, who’s been the Chorale’s director for more than 20 years, told us in a 2013 interview.

But now, the tradition-rich group, which began in 1936 as the Southold Town Choral Society and has grown to a chorus of 80 members from Wading River to Orient, is in danger of folding. Its problems are multi-pronged, but stem mostly from declining membership and, with that, revenue issues.

Its treasurer, Gene Yourch, tells us that a recent community outreach program, coupled with an advertising campaign, yielded few new members. As a newspaper group, we feel it’s our duty to help draw attention to the Chorale’s plight, and tout its value, to help keep this group active for another 78 years.

To keep it simple, here are three things to like about the North Fork Chorale.

• It’s a piece of our history. The group was founded the same year the British Broadcasting Corporation began transmitting the world’s first public television service from London. In other words, TV was still in its infancy.

In a way it’s remarkable the North Fork Chorale has lasted this long, which is even more reason to keep it going.

• It’s inexpensive and not digital. Nowadays, most every form of entertainment either takes place on a glowing screen or costs a bundle of money. This is live entertainment and the members only ask for a relatively nominal donation in the form of ticket sales.

• Kids enjoy it. Believe it or not, young children and teenagers have a keen ability to get lost in a good show. Even if they fight you over putting down their phones and getting out of the car. So next time the family is looking for something to do in the spring or December, check calendar listings for the Chorale’s concerts.

Who knows, watching one of these concerts may even instill in them a passion for singing — or to keep singing.

If you feel motivated to help and it’s not concert season, donations to the North Fork Chorale can be sent to P.O. Box 402, Cutchogue, NY 11935.