Love Notes- White Horse Village
Love notes are not just for star-crossed lovers or angst-filled teens. The senders and receivers of these missives are as diverse as the words themselves. Few love notes, however, are delivered with more gusto than the ones the White Horse Village Singers present to their audience twice a year.
The White Horse Village Singers’ love notes are not written; they are sung. The singers and the choir’s co-directors, Robin Frenz and Kay Stretton, work tirelessly to put together two annual concerts for the residents of White Horse Village, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Newtown Square, Pa.
Robin and Kay have been directing the choir for ten years now, and they are immensely proud of what the group has accomplished. They have encouraged the members to challenge their voices and learn choral techniques.
“We’ve grown from simple music to much more complicated music,” said Robin excitedly. Today, the 70- to 80-member group is performing a range of musical pieces, from classics and spirituals to Broadway tunes.
The growth in the choir’s range has been matched only by the growth in its membership. There are no auditions for the White Horse Village Singers. “We really believe that everyone can sing,” said Robin. “We also believe that singing is good for anyone and everyone,” Kay added.
By welcoming all singers, Robin and Kay have created a group that is deeply connected and extremely passionate. On working with everyone from amateurs to seasoned singers, Kay said, “That’s the fun part.” Combining people who have sung in church and community theater all their lives with others who have sung only sporadically, and still others who have never held a choral score is exciting, she related. “The spirit is so great in the group,” Robin confirmed.
In fact, the choir has become an inspiration and a source of pride for the entire community. “Something magical happens when our concerts come around,” said Kay. “[The residents] all love their neighbors, and they are so proud when they see them up there.”
Among the group’s favorite concerts are the matinees for the residents of the on-campus medical center. The auditorium is filled with wheelchairs, and there are even residents out in the hallway enjoying the music.
“I remember when the audience was singing Christmas carols with us, there was a man singing and a woman next to him crying,” recalled Robin. “Afterwards, she told us that her father hadn’t spoken in months, and he just started singing his heart out.”
While the group and their audience have an undeniable chemistry, they are clearly following their leaders. Robin and Kay have been avid musicians and singers their entire lives. The two women met decades ago at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. They both went on to have successful careers working in church music ministry, teaching music at levels ranging from high school to graduate school, and performing on concert stages around the world.
“It has been my life to get people singing and to sing myself,” said Robin. “Choral music is my vocation and my avocation,” Kay agreed.
When the time came for Robin and Kay and their families to look for retirement communities, they fell in love with White Horse Village and its bucolic setting. They also appreciated the security of knowing that additional care is available in their community should they need it. As a CCRC, White Horse Village offers independent living, assisted living, and long-term nursing or personal care.
Surprisingly, neither Robin nor Kay originally planned to direct the choir, but they were pleased to help when the opportunity presented itself. Their efforts have certainly not gone unnoticed. “I can’t tell you how thankful we are that they chose our community and have given so much of their time and talent to us all,” said White Horse Village’s Vice President of Marketing, Dottie Mallon.
Robin and Kay are also extremely grateful that they found White Horse. “We moved in and have never had any regrets,” said Kay. Robin added, “When people ask me if I am going on vacation, I say ‘Are you joking? I live on a resort.’”
For Robin and Kay, directing the White Horse Village Singers has been a wonderful extension of their successful professional lives. The Singers may not be world-renowned, but they are definitely celebrated in this tight-knit community. As the choir’s repertoire continues to grow, Robin and Kay will be there to ensure that each note is delivered with love.