Broad Channel Choir Brings New Life to Church Music

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The power of music brings people and communities together, that’s just what Margaret Wagner and Doris Dady did when they started the St. Virgilius New Life Choir in Broad Channel three years ago. Both co-founders, Wagner is currently the Choir Coordinator and a singer and Dady is the Choir Director. “Church is a celebration of God and music makes it more of a celebration,” says Dady. “It brings us together.” Now the choir is celebrating with its first recorded album.

The choir started in late 2015, when Wagner took to social media to see if there were any local choirs to join. “I thought to myself I want to do something that makes me happy and I always loved singing,” she says. “It makes me feel good.” To her surprise there was no local church choirs to join. Luckily, her friend Doris Dady happened to check her Facebook that day. “I don’t go on Facebook very often but happened to go on and saw Margaret’s post,” she said. Dady, who ran the choir in the 80’s, messaged her that day and they both decided to form the St. Virgilius New Life Choir. “From there it blossomed,” says Wagner. “We make a great team.” Originally working together back in ‘96 when they formed the Broad Channel Theater Group, they knew that by working together something great would come from it.

Now a group of 18, the choir performs on church holidays and special occasions at St.Virgilius Church. “One of the best things has been seeing the reactions of people in church. Often they have stayed after services and turned to applaud us up in the choir loft,” say choir member, Dan Guarino. “It feels so good to know we have done something that has touched people, uplifted them.”

The group comes together to practice once a week and Dady also puts their singing parts up on their website, so it is convenient for them to practice at home. The choir itself consists of different parts like soprano, alto, second alto and contralto. How are those parts determined? With a simple song. “When people first join I have them sing happy birthday,” says Dady. “From that song I get an idea of what group they should be in.” 

Wagner says Dady has been instrumental in encouraging the members. “Doris has more faith in us than we have in ourselves,” Wagner said with a laugh. “We know we did a great job when we look at Doris' face and she looks like she is going to cry.”

It was Dady who believed the choir should let their voices be heard even further by putting them on an album. Their very first CD, Faithful Songs of Praise, was released in late January. “I thought it would be nice to have something to look back on and pass down in our families,” says Dady. The CD was recorded and produced by Zack Magliaro, Dady’s brother. “My favorite part about making the CD was seeing it from start to end. Then hearing the end product I got chills,” says Wagner with smile. The recording took place at the North Channel Yacht Club, which generously let them use the hall to make the album. “The most interesting experience was each of us going one by one to record our particular part of each song. Just us, a microphone and a pair of headphones for the background,” said Guarino. “But when each of those voices were blended together, and the music and instruments were added, it was amazing!” The CD can be downloaded for free at www.thenewlifechoir.org.

The choir is always open to new members. “You may surprise yourself,” Dady said. “Some people come to us not thinking they can sing very well and now they are wonderful additions.”

Members do have to be at least 16 years of age, but professional singing experience is not required. “There is no pressure. We are just people coming together to sing,” says Wagner. You can contact Wagner at 347-236-2018 if interested.

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