CONWAY — Sam Huskey of Conway teaches high school choir and is director of a men’s chorus, but he can’t seem to get enough of choral directing.
Huskey is director of the new Conway Community Chorus for men and women in Faulkner County.
“It’s just getting off the ground,” he said.
Rehearsals started in January, he said, and between 15 and 30 people have shown up at 2 p.m. each Sunday at the Conway High School Music Complex to participate. No tryouts are required.
“Anybody can come and sing. There’s no audition process — it’s just if you love to sing and want to be a part, show up,” Huskey said.
“If it got up to 100 people, that would be amazing, but it doesn’t matter if it stays at 25 or 30, or it grows to 100. … It’s just about creating great music for the community,” he said.
Huskey said the idea came up after he helped organize a 200-plus-member alumni choir in 2012 to perform for retiring Conway High School Choir Director David Langston.
“We tried to send him out with a big Holland’s Opus-type thing,” Huskey said, referring to the movie.
“We had such a good time doing it. It was a one-time thing, and I said, ‘You know, I want to get back in touch with y’all and do it again,’” Huskey said.
“We have a vast community of musicians who either went to CHS and sang or went to UCA and sang and just don’t do it anymore,” Huskey said.
He also is a former choir teacher in the Greenbrier School District, so he knew many of those former students.
People who live in Faulkner County are participating, but because the choir rehearses in Conway, organizers decided on the name Conway Community Chorus.
Huskey said he originally talked with two Conway School District employees, Amy Jordan and Amy Wittenburg, about the idea.
“Over Christmas break, I called Amy and Amy and said, ‘Let’s get together and have coffee and talk about this,’” Huskey said.
They decided it was a worthwhile idea.
“We said, ‘Yeah, the more we talk to people, the more people say they want [a choir],’” he said.
“The two Amys were very instrumental in organizing it,” Huskey said. “I was instrumental in securing a place, music and directing.” He said the sheet music is property of the Conway High School choir.
“When we decided it was a go, we got on Facebook and created a group and invited everyone we knew,” Huskey said.
He also asked Janet Gingerich, director of music and worship at First United Methodist Church, to attend the choir’s organizational meeting.
“I’m helping with it,” she said. “I’m really just helping him get it off the ground; I want to be supportive.”
Gingerich, who said she has a full plate, is the backup director when Huskey can’t be there, and she plays piano for the choir as often as she can.
With a city that has the Conway Men’s Chorus, the Conway Women’s Chorus and many church choirs, is there a need for another one?
“Judging by the response and the people who are attending, it seems there is a need, and there are people excited about it and passionate about it,” Gingerich said.
“And one of the things I’m enjoying is that it’s multigenerational, and there are family members singing in this together,” she said.
Gingerich said some of the people also participate in church choirs.
“This gives them a slightly broader basis of the music they’re able to sing,” she said.
Conway Community Chorus member Mike Altland of Conway said the music is some secular, some sacred.
“It’s just a blend,” he said. “The potential is just going to be amazing.”
Huskey said he is enjoying making new friendships.
“There are people I’ve never met. They aren’t even alumni from the (Conway or Greenbrier) choirs, but they’re from the community and like to sing — just wonderful people I’m enjoying getting to know,” he said.
Creating music with other people is “just magical,” Huskey said.
“They don’t want to have just a sing-along; they want to be pushed and do great music,” he said, adding that the point isn’t to be competitive. “We’re not going to contest or anything,” he said, laughing. “The whole point is creating great and quality music and enjoying the journey.”
Huskey said the goal is to have the group’s first performance at Toad Suck Daze, which will be May 2-4 in downtown Conway.
For more information, contact Huskey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or at email@example.com.