BY INDIANA NASH
SCHENECTADY — For over 100 years, the Thursday Musical Club members have been coming together every week from September into spring to sing and leave behind some of the stress of their daily lives.
However, with low membership, the singers are getting worried about the group’s future.
The Thursday Musical Club was begun in 1913 and grew out of a need for the wives of GE employees to have fellowship with one another.
“It’s still a way for us to sing outside of church and outside of school,” long-time member Cindy Kelley said.
Although the Club began mostly with women from Niskayuna and Schenectady, it has since expanded.
“Our membership comes from all over the Capital District now,” said Ann Tetrault, who has been in the group for about 25 years.
Usually, the group would like to have 40 to 50 singers. But there are only 25 signed up for the upcoming season.
“I think it’s because so many women are working now that they can’t make our rehearsal times,” Tetrault said.
The group rehearses from 9:30 to 11:30 Wednesday mornings at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady. (The name dates to when the group originally practiced on Thursdays.)
“But it’s also very difficult for many parents and younger people to make evening rehearsal times,” Kelley said.
Even though the rehearsal time has been consistent for many years now, the group is willing to change it if it means higher membership, said director Julie Panke.
“We’re also going to start making childcare available because we have a young mother in the group now,” Tetrault said. With this addition, she hopes that more stay-at-home moms will be able to join.
While the Thursday Musical Club holds two concerts a year and puts in a lot of hard work preparing for them, Tetrault said that the group has also retained the atmosphere of fellowship aspect that led to its creation.
“We encourage anyone who might want to join to call a member and learn about the group,” Panke said.
Tetrault goes a bit further than that, even having lunch with prospective members.
“It’s something that we all really look forward to and while we’re there and singing, we can just forget about the stress of our lives … music is the soul’s own speech,” Kelley said.
Although Panke is able to include anyone in the group who is willing to be trained, she said that it’s easier if new members come with some experience.
“The music we sing is definitely not easy,” Kelley said.
But she is willing to work with anyone who wants to learn.
The Thursday Musical Club also brings together its members to create scholarships for the surrounding area colleges.
They work with Union College and Schenectady County Community College to find students with musical interests who are in need of financial assistance.
“We sometimes have the recipients come to our performances and we invite them to perform for us,” Tetrault said.
Now the group is asking for a little help themselves from the community to join them in singing.
For more information visit the Thursday Musical Club website: tmcsingers.org
Or call Ann Tetrault at 518-334-6873