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For the Love of Music

When Josephine Quinn moved from the Capital District to Indianapolis in the mid-1980s, she stopped singing.

Quinn started singing in junior high school and had belonged to a few choruses in the Albany area. When she moved to Schenectady in the early 1990s, she felt a pull to join a group again.

I needed to do this, she said.

She went to a Schenectady Choral Society concert and knew she had found a new home.

"I really liked what I heard," she said, citing the group's mix of modern and classical music. Quinn also liked that the society had a mix of male and female members.

Quinn was one of hundreds who joined the chorus over the years. On Friday, May 15, the group will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a 7 p.m. concert at the Eastern Parkway United Methodist Church in Schenectady.

Members recently put together a piece on the group's background. The society got its start in 1933 when Rufus Wheeler, then director of music at Nott Terrace High School, formed the first mixed voice community choral group in the city. Many of the early members were Wheeler's former students.

When Wheeler retired as music director in 1966, Don MacMillan came on board for a similarly long tenure, leading the chorus for almost 30 years. After a series of guest directors, John Malthouse took the helm from 1997 to 2003, when he was replaced by Betsy Lehmann.

Like Quinn, Lehmann heard the group in concert and was excited at the idea of being part of it.

Lehmann grew up in Ballston Spa and has master's degrees in music history and conducting. She teaches at The College of Saint Rose and said music is vital to her.

"It's sort of my life, and when I don't have it in my life, it makes things harder," she said.

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