Classic movie and show tunes like “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “June in January” rang throughout the walls of Paramount Court Senior Living on Tuesday afternoon, much to the delight of those watching the performance. But, it wasn’t a Broadway ensemble that had made its way into the assisted living home – it was the talent of the Turlock Senior Chorus which drew applause of approval from the small crowd.
Started in 1972 by then-director Mary Trevor, the Senior Chorus has since entertained convalescent homes, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes throughout the city with rousing renditions of classic musical numbers. This year’s group is 18 strong, said Coordinator Barbara Miguel, and they all have one thing in common.
“Everybody here loves to sing, and most of us sang when we were younger,” said Miguel. “Some of the songs we sing, I can remember walking around my yard when I was little and singing them.”
The Senior Chorus meets at the Turlock Senior Center – a haven for entertainment, exercise and engagement for community members over the age of 50. There are plenty of opportunities for excitement at the center, from workout classes to potlucks, and the Senior Chorus’ Tuesday afternoon practices and performances are always a social affair. The group meets weekly at 12:30 p.m. to rehearse, then they make their way to their performance venue at around 2 p.m.
There are nine facilities throughout Turlock at which the chorus performs, including Covenant Village and, this week, Paramount.
“We try to get songs together that we all learned when we were kids – silly songs like ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ or ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’” said Miguel. “We sing songs that we think they can relate to, and I think it helps them. They mouth every word.”
Chorus member Loudella Gossage is 91 years old and has been in the choir for about 20 years, driving to practices from her home at Covenant Village. Participating in the Senior Chorus gives her a sense of purpose, she said.
“If you stay in all the time, you start to feel like you’re worthless. This is something that I could get involved in and make an impression on people that we are here for them,” said Gossage. “I love to sing and be with people, and if I can bring a smile to someone’s face, I’m in seventh heaven.”
During the chorus’ Tuesday performance at Paramount, Gossage was joined by Turlock Senior Citizen Club President Gary Weimer for an enchanting duet of “Love Me Tender.” Other songs from the performance of show tune-themed numbers included “Look to the Rainbow” and “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.”
Paramount resident Cleo Westby appreciated the chorus’ effort, adding that the peaceful music was a nice change from activities that typically take up her time, like playing bingo or dominos.
“I think it’s wonderful that they do this voluntarily. It’s very relaxing, and as we don’t have much to do around here it certainly gets us out of our room for a while to enjoy the music,” said Westby. “I love gospel music, so I’m hoping they’ll sing some of that.”
Westby’s wish was granted, as the chorus capped off their performance at Paramount with rousing renditions of several inspirational ballads, like “Hymn of Promise,” “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
“This is a way of paying it forward, because we never know when we’re going to be there,” said Miguel. “I would want someone to come and sing to me.”