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Upper Perk’s ‘A’ Choir Sings in 50-Year Anniversary
Written by Kelly Kalb, Correspondent
2017-05-31

            Fifty years have passed since Upper Perkiomen School District's vocal music program was created. And throughout that time, the program continues to thrive.

            In 1967, a former resident of New Castle, Richard Lampe, was invited

to move into the Upper Perk area and develop his own vocal music program.

            "The father of a very close friend of mine at college happened to be the Superintendent of schools for Upper Perk and, at the time, there was no vocal program only a music program. My wife, Barbara, and I moved to East Greenville and I was hired on the spot by Dr. Thompson to create my own program," Lampe explained.

            For 32 years, Lampe taught voice, music appreciation, 8th grade general music, and directed the award winning choirs of Upper Perkiomen High School.

            Most notably the "A" choir was developed first as a highly selective group based on audition and approval of the director. Lampe chose the name "A" Choir to pay tribute to the members and show significance of the efforts and talent needed to make the group.

            After retiring from the district, a former student of Lampe's, Dr. Mark Thomas took over as director and has held the position for the last 18 years.

            "Dr. Thomas has done an extraordinary job with continuing the program. He's known on the state level and the country. He does a wonderful job," Lampe said.

            Thomas and Lampe will share the director's podium on Sat., June 3 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium for a portion of the 50-year anniversary concert.

            The concert will begin with the current 92-member "A" Choir singing six songs from the spring Sunday morning concert series, Thomas said.

            They will be followed by the Uptones, Women's Choir, and Show Choir. The second half of the concert will bring Lampe and Thomas together to direct the alumni of the "A" choir and current members performing a selection of songs.

            The "A" Choir alumni will consist of roughly 70 to 100 members from as early as 1968 through 2016, Thomas added.

            Corynn Twisdale, Class of 2009, said, "The 'A' choir was always like a home which is why I return each year to see their performances."

            As a member of the current graduating class, Taylor Ayers, explained, "The 'A' choir has always been like family to me and I feel that most members have that feeling each time they walk into the choir room."

            In 1983 Lampe founded the Valley Choral Society, an outgrowth of the high school program for anyone interested in singing with a choir other than in a church program. Former students of Lampe's can be found within the 55-60 member choir such as Dean Godshall.

            Godshall, from the class of 1979 and Valley Choral Society member, said,  "The really special and memorable parts of 'A' Choir were the performances when everyone would give their all and pay close attention to Mr. Lampe's every move and direction.

            This would result in a wonderful experience that would remain with us throughout our lifetime. It also showed the depth of respect that the choir held for Mr. Lampe and how he taught us."

            Regardless of where the lives of Lampe's and Thomas' alumni have taken them, it would appear their dedication and commitment have a lasting effect on those they've taught.

             As Monica Xander Strawbridge, Class of 1970, explained, "Singing in the 'A' Choir went beyond following notes of a song. Whether in a local church or on a trip to Miami, Florida, it was a shared experience of mind, body, and soul. No matter how many years have passed, no matter where we have traveled, it is a feeling members have that will always join us to the music and each other through each generation."

            For more information on the Sat., June 3 50-year anniversary concert, contact Dr. Mark Thomas at MThomas@upsd.org.  


 

 

 

 

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