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Verdugo Hills Women’s Chorus members ‘sing, sing, sing’ their way to regional concert

Jeanne Long, Rosa Former, and Arlene Massimino, of the Verdugo Hills Women’s Chorus, work on vocal e
Jeanne Long, Rosa Former and Arlene Massimino, of the Verdugo Hills Women’s Chorus, working on vocal exercises last summer. Currently, the choir is rehearsing for the 50th anniversary of an annual concert it participates in.
(Tim Berger / Glendale News Press)

Singing catchy songs like “Dancing in the Street” and “All That Jazz” with a group of dear friends sounds like a lot of fun.

When it’s 125 friends from choirs across Southern California practicing for the 50th anniversary of an annual concert, it also requires dedication.

“It sounds like ‘whoopee!,’ but it’s a lot of work. And some play,” said Arlene Massimino, who has been singing with the Verdugo Hills Women’s Chorus for more than a decade.

On Saturday, the Verdugo Hills choir, which belongs to the nonprofit California Women’s Chorus, or CWC, joined forces with fellow member choirs from other cities for its annual Southern Area Rehearsal that was held this year at the First United Methodist Church in Glendale.

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Singers from cities throughout Southern California met up to “sing, sing, sing” about 10 songs they will perform at the CWC’s annual concert on May 5, Massimino said.

The concert will be held at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton in the city of Orange.

Since this past fall, the Verdugo Hills singers have been rehearsing classic tunes for the big show such as “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Moon River,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and a medley of Gershwin songs.

Rob Blaney will be heading up the concert as guest director. Since 2010, Blaney has been the director of vocal music at Woodbridge High School in Irvine and currently conducts five choirs.

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Besides the women’s choirs, three vocal-music students selected for scholarships from CWC will perform two songs each at the concert, with each of them singing one song in a foreign language.

“Once they start singing, you just get blown away,” Massimino said.

The roughly 40 women who make up the Verdugo Hills choir also prepare spring and winter concerts for the local community.

Representing a diverse demographic — from college professors to nurses — the women meet from 9 a.m. to noon every Monday at a rented space in La Crescenta to rehearse and socialize, according to Massimino.

The Verdugo Hills chorus has members from Glendale, Burbank, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Altadena and Sunland-Tujunga. They practice from September to May.

“I call them the friendliest group in town,” Massimino said. “When someone new walks in, they all get up and greet them. It’s a what-can-you-do-for-them kind of thing.”

Monday marked the first performance of the spring season. Often, the women perform at assisted-living facilities and other places where the audience might have difficulties traveling to see a show.

For more information, visit cwchorus.com.

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lila.seidman@latimes.com

Twitter: @lila_seidman


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