The men, women and young people in the Payson Choral Society are a dedicated lot. Even before they present their big holiday concert at Christmas, they are planning for auditions and rehearsals for the annual spring concert.
This year approximately 70 vocalists, instrumentalists and director Daria Mason have been working for 18 weeks to blend their many voices into one for the May 9 spring concert, “It’s All About Love,” which will be presented at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Payson High School auditorium.
The program will feature a special trio and two soloists, plus the four students who will receive the society’s annual music scholarships.
The trio includes Kathleen Phillips, Jess Rushlow and Shelley Wayland. The adult soloists are Jennifer Baltz and Lee Kennedy.
Of the five, Kennedy has been with the choral society the longest. She said she joined 17 or 18 years ago, and then her husband came on board about 15 years ago.
“I saw a production and auditioned,” she said of how she first became involved in the group.
Kennedy said the people are wonderful and director Daria Mason is fantastic. “The sound is tremendous. When you’re singing, it’s just the music — everything else goes away. I love to sing.”
Soloists Jennifer Baltz has been with the Payson Choral Society for about four years.
“I joined because I just wanted to sing,” she said.
Her experience beforehand was minimal she said.
“It’s a neat experience and lots of fun,” Baltz said.
She really enjoys the people she works with, but the best part is how their sound improves over the course of the rehearsals.
“When we start, it sounds OK, but not super great. As we become more cohesive we start sounding wonderful.”
Surprisingly, Baltz said it is harder singing in the group than it is doing a solo.
“You have to listen to one another and pay attention. It’s hard work, but it is also a neat exercise in teamwork when we can make 70 voices sound like one.”
Trio member Kathleen Phillips has been with the choral society for three years.
“After moving here, I went to the spring concert and as soon as I heard them I wanted to sing with them,” she said.
Phillips has a background singing with school and church groups and said she thinks Daria Mason is an incredible director. “She may be an elementary teacher, but I think she is as good or better than any director I had in college.”
She said she enjoys making music together with all the nice people in the group, many of whom are quite talented.
“The change from how we sound when we start to where we end up is remarkable,” she said.
Phillips said she most enjoys the variety of ages of people she gets to work with in the choral society. The members range from junior high age to retirees.
Jess Rushlow, another member of the trio, has been with the Payson Choral Society since 2007.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. It gets the members involved in the community, doing something they love and encouraging young people to get into music.
He thinks it’s a great deal all around, not only for the members of the society, but for the young people it is able to benefit through the scholarship program.
“What I love the most is when all the parts come together and we hit that perfect chord of blended voices,” Rushlow said.
He also really enjoys seeing director Daria Mason work with the group. “She is phenomenal and she makes us become more than the sum of the parts.”
Shelley Wayland of the trio has been with the group for three years. She said she joined because she loves music and wanted to keep her voice in shape.
“I love it. The choir’s so fun,” she said.
Wayland has been in music since she was in the sixth-grade, singing in choirs in school and church and at special events.
“It is a privilege to sing with other people who are coming to do their best,” Wayland said.
She also likes the selection of music the group gets to perform and working with director Daria Mason. “She is an excellent director and pulls it out of us,” she said.
Tickets for each performance are $8 for those 18 and older, with those under 18 admitted free. Buy the tickets at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Payson Roundup, the Payson Public Library or from any member of the choral society. They may also be purchased at the door.
Proceeds are used for scholarships, with the awards made during the spring concert.