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Local group shares gospel overseas and at home

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Glory Singers, shown here at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 2006, is made up of Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood singers. This chorale concert group will tour Ireland in August of next year. With auditions complete, a 16-member-strong group of Tualatin, Tigard and Sherwood singers has its sights set on a tour of Ireland next August.

Now in its 15th season, the Glory Singers chorale group is a multi-denominational collective that began performing primarily Christian music that fell outside of the typical church service format. Beth Donnelly-Feller and her husband Doug Feller founded the group in order to establish a community venue for a wider range of spiritual music.

“There was so much great sacred and Christian music that we wanted to perform individually and chorally that didn’t fit into a liturgical situation,” Beth said. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a concert choir?’”

Since then, the Tualatin couple has expanded the group’s repertoire, and often integrates the Glory Singers into their own operatic performances, including the upcoming Crescendo Concert, which will include opera, operetta and Broadway musical selections.

International tour

The Ireland trip is not the group’s first international foray. Previous tours have taken the Glory Singers through British Columbia, France and Italy, where they performed for Pope Benedict XVI.

“We sang an African praise song,” Beth recalled. “The Pope actually started clapping, keeping in time with the music.”

This time around, Beth and Doug decided on the trip’s itinerary after taking a directors’ trip to Ireland with 10 other musical directors. They were able to survey churches and other venues, assessing acoustics and size. When they return to Ireland with the rest of the Glory Singers next August, they’ll be escorted around the country by Peter’s Way tour company.

The coach-style tour will take the singers to St. Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, St. Nicholas Church in Galway and Christ’s Church in Dublin, among other stops. Each singer pays to cover his or her travel and accommodation expenses.

Although the concert line-up will include “songs with an Irish bent,” Beth said most of the music will be gospel, including favorites such as “Down to the River to Pray,” “My God is So High” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” as well as a selection of African praises.

Before they leave, of course, they’ll stage their annual Christmas concert, Joyful Noise, at St. Francis Church in Portland.

A couple with a passion

Beth and Doug, who have a studio in Tualatin, have their hands full with several other projects, too. They own Jeremiah Productions, which produces choral concerts and acts as its own independent record label. One of their releases was 2005’s “That’s Amore,” a 12-track collection of operatic love duets.

Beth is a soprano soloist and Doug is a baritone soloist.

Both have performed with the Portland Opera Association and Oregon Symphony, among others. Fittingly, they met during previews for the Portland Opera many years ago, where Beth was performing the title role of “La Cenerentola,” an opera based on the Cinderella story. In this version, the fairy godmother is replaced by a fairy godfather — and Doug was playing that role.

For more information about the Glory Singers and the choir’s upcoming season, visit theglorysingers.org.

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