When Jerome Hogan advertised openings in a chorale for men and women’s voices in January 2008, Sherry Thomas became one of the Collegiate Peaks Chorale’s charter members, though with some hesitation.
“Music has always been an important part of my life, but I was concerned that it was too soon to get involved following the death of my husband in December. However, I found that singing brought me great comfort. I have sung with the choir since then,” Thomas says.
Thomas feels she has been singing all of her life, from the day she was born.
“My mother told a funny story about the doctor who delivered me saying, ‘It sounded like she was trying to sing!’”
Throughout school and college, she would sing solos and with ensembles and choirs, including church choirs. She also took part in musical theater in college, including “The Sound of Music.”
“I will never forget the reaction of the audiences. I think this was 1963, so many had never heard these songs that were new and inspiring. That is what music can do. It can speak to the heart and soul in a way that nothing else can,” she says.
Even now, Thomas keeps a plaque on her wall that reads the anonymous poem “The Soul’s Own Speech”:
“For the common things of everyday, God gave men speech in the common way,
For the deeper things men think and feel, God gave poets words to reveal,
For heights and depths no words can reach, God gave men music, the soul’s own speech.”
Not long after getting married, Thomas received the opportunity to play Maria in “The Sound of Music” at the Community Theatre in Coffeyville, Kan., and her sons later got to play the von Trapp boys in a community college presentation of the same musical.
“Many years later, I played the part of a nun when Jerome directed the musical at the high school in Salida,” Thomas says. “I guess that proves that singing does not have an age limit.”
Be it musicals or church choirs, Thomas’s love for song hasn’t diminished in the slightest, with “Climb Every Mountain” as one of her many favorites.
Singing traditional carols as well as enjoying the Christmas music of talented composers and arrangers always helps her “receive the true spirit of Christmas.”
“The upcoming concert ‘Peace on Earth’ combines some favorites, as well as some exciting new music,” she says. “One of the selections that I’m enjoying singing in our upcoming Christmas concert is the traditional ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ arranged by Dan Forrest.”
The choral voices in this concert series will be backed by musicians playing the violin, flute, brass, saxophone and percussion, as well as piano accompanist Teresa Rooda, whom Thomas praises as an outstanding musician.
She also praises the chorale’s new director, Brandon Chism, and his leadership.
“Brandon is a talented musician, as well as a gifted teacher and director. Also, he has a fantastic sense of humor which keeps us laughing,” she says. “I know that the audience will enjoy the beautiful Christmas music, and I am sure that they will leave with their souls overflowing with the true meaning of Christmas.”