Tina Heidrich wasn’t exactly a happy camper, but she had no
The 48-year-old founder and director of the Danbury-based Connecticut Master
Chorale had been invited to bring her group to sing at the White House this Christmas, but
security dictated just 25 of the 55 singers could go.
So, since she considered everyone equally important, Heidrich hit on the idea of having
a lottery among the members.
"I hated having to do it because I wanted to take everyone. But we all agreed this was
the best way and we had to follow the rules,” Heidrich said Monday.
According to Heidrich, 37 members of the chorale expressed an interest in going to
Washington. Those who did not sign up helped draw the names from a box. "We made a little
game of it,” said Heidrich, who said they eventually chose eight sopranos, seven altos,
five tenors and five basses, along with some alternates in case of an emergency.
Danbury resident Betsy Bergeron, one of the 25 chosen to sing in Washington, said she
felt "honored” to represent the chorale.
"Even if I hadn’t been chosen, I would have felt excited for those who would have
represented me,” said Bergeron, a 45-year-old music teacher and founding member of the
Another lucky singer, Bill Dealey of Southbury, said he felt "elated.”
"I think it’s a big honor that the group itself was chosen,” said Dealey, 61, a
supervisor in relocation accounting at Cendant Mobility in Danbury.
The singers have been asked to perform two 45-minute sets between noon and 4 p.m. on
Dec. 21 in the East Room.
Heidrich said the guests are expected to include the family of President Bush, the
president’s friends, Cabinet members, White House staff members and other dignitaries.
The program will include some of the music the chorale will be presenting in its annual
Holiday Prelude Concert at St. Mary’s Church in Bethel on Nov. 24.
It was a compact disc recording of last year’s concert at St. Mary’s that won the group
a chance to sing at the White House.
The CD was mailed to Washington after the chorale’s public relations director, Nancy
Lavers, wrote to President Bush and told him about the singers.
The chorale, formed three years ago, has already performed at Carnegie Hall in New York
City and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Last May, the group entered the McDonald’s Annual Gospelfest competition and took first
place in the adult choir category.
Although 58-year-old New Fairfield resident Ray Oksala is not among the lucky ones
chosen for Washington, he’s pragmatic about it.
"I was disappointed, to be honest, but that’s the only way we could have done it, and
it was done completely fairly,” Oksala said.
"We had the choice of either not going at all or taking only half the chorale. I think
most of my friends and my family were more disappointed than I was.”
For information on the chorale’s concert at St. Mary’s, call (203) 743-0473.
Contact Brian Saxton
or at (203) 731-3332.