For most of his life, Bangor-native Lloyd George has always had a passion for singing.
George, who turns 85 in April, has been serenading Bangor audiences since his youth choir days as a young boy, a member of the Interracial Choir of Bangor and Brewer, and is the last original member still singing in the Bangor Community Chorus, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
When George joined the newly formed choir in 1959, he did not expect the group to be going strong 50 years later.
“I never dreamed it would last 50 years when we started. There have been a lot of ups and downs,” George said.
George was a member of the Bangor Savoyards, a local community theatre group. Members of the group wanted to sing together more frequently, so members Arline Keith, Jeanette Taylor and Marian Vafiades formed the group, according to George. George, then 34, and six to eight members left the Savoyards to join the chorus with Vafiades serving as its first conductor until 1986.
The Savoyards eventually merged with the Bangor Civic Theatre to form the Bangor Community Theatre in 1969.
The chorus would practice in members’ homes and then the Bangor Community Center on the Davis Road. Today, the group has a permanent rehearsal space at the First United Methodist Church on Essex Street in Bangor.
The group plays a variety of music including secular music, popular music and music from films and Broadway. George says his favorite style to perform is Gilbert and Sullivan, and his favorite pieces he performed with the chorus were “The Storm is Passing Over,” by Charles A. Tindley, and “The Prayer.”
“I have enjoyed all the music,” George said. “I really enjoy religious music.”
Ruth Munson, an alto, says the pieces the chorus sings can be challenging, but the chorus allows her to continue what she loves: singing.
“It is really so much fun. It’s really the people. Most are just people who love to sing — pure and simple,” she said.
Through the decades, the group has had its ebbs and flows, but George says they’ve stayed a “friendly, happy, fun, group.”
George says the group has gotten larger with more talented voices but with fewer basses and tenors. In the early ’70s, the group was considered a women’s group because so few men had joined.
The friendship and the group setting is what George has enjoyed the most about the chorus, making close friends in the process. Waldo “Mac” Libbey and Palmer Libby, both tenors, were “lifelong friends” who have since passed away.
There were periods when George has not participated in the group — after his youngest daughter was born and when his work schedule conflicted with rehearsals. Both daughters are now members of the chorus, with his daughter, Stacy, serving as president of its board.
The group has worked hard to keep itself going and all the individual members working together is what has kept them together, George said.
“I hope it continues the same route it has taken these past 50 years,” he said. “There will be struggle and defeat, but it will continue on. I hope it lasts forever.”
Colin Graebert, the chorus’ conductor for the past two years, said George’s continued presence in the group, as an original member, speaks to its legacy.
“Lloyd George is one of the coolest and most dedicated singers I have ever met in my life,” Graebert said. “His love of music and singing is infectious, and his dedication should be an inspiration to all singers.”
The chorus will celebrate its Golden Anniversary at its Spring concert, “A Golden Night for Singing,” at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the First United Methodist Church. The chorus will perform pieces from the past 50 years.
George is confident the choir will continue for 50 more years and his love for singing will continue with it.
“As long as I’m able to breathe, I am going to want to sing.”
This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s April 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.