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This week we take an inside look at the WPC Chancel Choir through the eyes of longtime choir members Kit and Fritz Ober.
Kit and Fritz Ober have been members of the WPC Chancel Choir for fifteen years. Kit was born in Cleveland, but lived her formative years in Sheridan, Wyoming. Fritz was born and raised in Burlington, Iowa. Upon Kit’s graduation from Smith, they married and lived in Chicago until Fritz got his law degree. After that their life was in Fairfield, Connecticut, until they moved to Williamsburg to retire in a friendlier climate.
They both sang in Congregational choirs in Connecticut starting in the mid-1960s. Fritz sang in an Episcopal choir in high school (not out of religious piety but because that’s what his girlfriend did!). In addition to their church choir experience, they both sang a number of summers with the Berkshire Choral Festival, as well as three concerts in Venice, Italy, with members of Dicapo Opera and the Fairfield County Chorale. Fritz sang for about thirty years with the Fairfield County Chorale, a 100+ member chorus in Connecticut. Kit sang in an a cappella group and an octet in high school.
What do you like best and/or least about being a choir member?
We just love to sing, and we enjoy the camaraderie. That is worth the time commitment to get to church early and sing both services.
How does singing in the choir intersect with your faith?
As poetry gives feeling and emotion to literature, liturgical singing adds emotion and fullness to the Word.
We have not been able to sing in church services since March. How has that affected you? What do you think about the efforts to continue choir activities online (Zoom social time, virtual choir recordings)?
We both noticed a lack of range and breath control from not singing, but very much appreciated and enjoyed the virtual get-togethers Chris organized. We were glad to participate in the virtual recordings, but struggled with our egos at our lame attempts!
The choir recently began in-person rehearsals (with COVID restrictions, of course). What has it meant for you to sing with others again? [Note: these rehearsals are currently on hold due to rising COVID cases.]
It has been refreshing and a new challenge. We found our range and tone improved with other people even though we were spaced far apart.
What is a word or phrase that comes to mind when you think about choir?
Kit – Friendship and community; Fritz - Joy
Tell us about your family.
Daughter Tracey graduated from Yale and worked abroad as a reporter for AP and Reuters. She’s now a freelance (read: starving) editor in Brooklyn. She’s the real singer of the family.
Son Dan graduated from University of Vermont and is a highly skilled woodworker and wood carver with his own business in Lincoln, Vermont. He is married to the Town Clerk.
What did you do prior to retirement?
Fritz was an attorney in Connecticut and Kit held various administrative positions, both charitable and commercial.
Are you involved in other groups/activities in the church besides choir?
Kit’s the moderator of Circle 11 and Fritz is a past moderator of Deacons.
What gives you energy or joy in your life?
Music, literature, and being together.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
If they would be surprised, we probably would not want them to know! However, we did meet over sixty years ago on a blind date on Valentine’s Day. The lady that set us up was the daughter of a Park Avenue physician who thought we might know each other because Kit was from Wyoming and Fritz was from Iowa--both west of the Hudson!
Favorite pastimes or hobbies:
Reading, singing, and mediocre golf for both. Puzzles and crosswords for Kit. Playing jazz bass for Fritz.
Favorite hymn and/or Bible verse:
Kit--“How Great Thou Art” and the 23rd Psalm. Fritz--“Here I Am Lord” and Matthew 7:12 or the golden rule in whatever form it may take.
A book you’ve read in the last year that you’d recommend, and why:
Kit –Becoming by Michelle Obama, just a brilliantly written memoir of a talented person. Fritz – The Wise Men by Walter Isaacson and Thomas Even. One of the finest descriptions of the group of statesmen before and during the Cold War who collectively shaped our foreign policy.
A favorite or memorable meal:
Kit – a toss-up between salmon and lobster. Fritz – sauerbraten and potato balls (Hey, what else with a name like Fritz?).
Name something you are grateful for.
Sixty wonderful years of each other’s companionship and the health to enjoy it.
Mondays -Thursdays 9am - 5pmFridays 9am - 1pm