Women’s choir ready to sing again

BELLA VISTA — A longtime well-known group has a new name and is ready to reboot.

The Bella Vista Women’s Chorus, established in 1975, was recently renamed the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Chorus to better reflect its membership. The ensemble will soon get back together after a long hiatus due to covid-19.

Its members are more than excited to count down the days until May 3, when the band will hold its first official indoor rehearsal in over a year.

“Everyone is like ‘yoo-hoo, let’s go’,” said Grace Turley, a member of the choir since 2013. “It’s like any band when you get together and do what you love. When you’re not able to do that, you really miss it.

“This group has been a real boost and boost for me.”

The band’s first rehearsal since covid stuck will be from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. May 3 at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Bella Vista.

“We’re going to be social distancing and think we can do it,” said band president Elaine Jones, a member of the choir since 2016. let’s be very careful.”

A limited group of choir members gathered outdoors at various sites in Bella Vista during the spring and summer of last year to continue practicing.

“We brought an electric piano so we could be accompanied, but it was hard to make music and really get along,” Turley said. “But it helped the group a lot to see each other and come together.

“We probably had four outdoor rehearsals, but then the number of covid went up in Arkansas, and some people weren’t ready to come to rehearsals. So we just said we had to wait and see when we could we get together again.”

Turley said all of the members have either been vaccinated or are in the process of being vaccinated.

“When covid crashed into our respective heads, we realized we weren’t going to be able to do this until there was a vaccine or the numbers looked much, much better in Arkansas” , said Turley. “It’s very difficult to sing indoors with masks on, and in my personal opinion, it’s not very healthy to breathe, project and sing.

“But we recently did a survey of all of our members and everyone is now fully vaccinated or in the process of getting vaccinated because they really want to come and sing.”

Some choir members travel from as far away as Fayetteville each week. This prompted the recent name change.

“It’s been called the Bella Vista Women’s Chorus for a long time, but really, we have people who live in Fayetteville, Rogers, and Pea Ridge, and we really want to be known as the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Chorus,” Turley said.

A woman drove from Fayetteville to rehearse because she said there was nothing like the Bella Vista band in her area that she found, Turley said.

Jones said the choir has two sessions in a typical year. They usually start at the beginning of the year and repeat until June. Then start again in late August and transition into December, culminating with a holiday concert at Concordia, a retirement community in Bella Vista.

“This year, however, we’ll be rehearsing all summer long,” Jones said.

The group has 25 members, but welcomes new singers.

“If you love to sing, we invite you to come join us, no audition or experience necessary,” Turley said. “We welcome new voices.”

The choir performs a wide variety of music ranging from oldies, Broadway musicals, patriotic songs, pop, jazz, spiritual, seasonal, sassy, ​​and classical.

“We also sing folk and novelty songs for children,” Turley said.

The choir sings for community groups, retirement homes, schools, daycare centers and veterans centers.

“We traveled to Tulsa; Little Rock; Natchez, Miss. ; San Antonio; Kansas City; St. Louis and sang on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, DC,” she said.

The group is led by Larry Zehring, who holds a doctorate in vocal music performance, choral conducting and musicology. Zehring taught vocal and choral music in high schools and colleges and performed with the Grammy Award-winning Gregg Smith Singers.

Anyone interested in joining the choir can learn more at or call Jones at (918) 857-1675 or Turley (479) 715-6154.

“I just can’t wait to do it again,” Jones said. “I sent a memo a few times during Covid to see how people were doing. People replied that they used their time to do everything from puzzles to walking in the woods.

“I think everyone is so ready to put this on their agenda.”