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CAFB singer finds new musical home in Girlchoir


Jan Swoope & George Hazard



The notes of the French carol "Come Join the Angels Singing" ebb and swell in the First Methodist Church choir room, bringing the fragrance of the Christmas season. It''s a Monday practice for the Columbus Senior Girlchoir as their Dec. 10 Christmas concert approaches. 


Of the choir''s 33 members, 13 joined this fall. That number includes soprano Erin Isler, a Texas native whose family moved from San Antonio''s Lackland Air Force Base to Columbus Air Force Base in August. 


"Quality of life" is in every city''s promotional brochure. Erin''s experience shows what it can mean. 


She is the daughter of Lt. Col. and Mrs. Chuck Isler. "I love to sing very much," she said before a recent practice. So she did not look forward to leaving the Children''s Chorus of San Antonio after four years. 


But over the years, 10 singers have moved to town and joined the choir. And two Columbus groups made sure Erin''s love of singing continues to grow here, says her mother, Diane. 


"Right after we moved, I got an e-mail from a CAFB contact mentioning auditions for the Columbus Choral Society" formed in 2009. "So I called Tamie Adams with the choral society and asked about the age requirements. You have to be 16, so I told Tamie, ''I''ve got a 14-year-old who''s going to be disappointed.''" 


"But then she said, ''Well, we have the Columbus Girlchoir'' and put me in touch with Cherry Dunn," its director since the choir started in 2004. 


"That was on a Tuesday," Mrs. Isler said. "Erin auditioned the next Saturday and, on Monday, we were at the welcome-back spaghetti supper at St. Paul''s Episcopal Church." 


Erin said, "I like to sing, and I like the music the girlchoir sings. We do traditional songs, non-traditional songs, songs in Spanish, songs in an African language called Chibemba." 


Among the planned Christmas music, Erin mentioned "Bonse Aba," "The Poet Sings" and "Carol of the Bells" as personal favorites. 


The Children''s Chorus of San Antonio has 150 boys and girls. The Columbus Junior and Senior Girlchoirs total 55, but Diane Isler says that, despite numerical and budgetary differences, the groups are "really quite comparable in their types of music, in singing in several languages and in having junior and senior choirs." 


The Columbus Junior Girlchoir has 22 members and will be part of the big Christmas concert, too. It includes Erin''s sister Emily. Brother Will and sister Hanna round out the family. 


Beyond the Dec. 10 Christmas concert, the Columbus Girlchoir is looking forward to two choral festivals in early 2011: Treblesong in Jackson in February and the Crescent City Choral festival in June. 


Auditions for the spring 2011 junior and senior choirs will be at First Methodist Church on Jan. 10 from 3 to 4 p.m. For more information, contact Dunn at 662-327-3896.


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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