North River Sing Community Chorus, which meets in downtown Jersey City, is offering up to five free memberships this fall, spurred by the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund, which awarded a grant to the choir in June. The group was formed in 2014 and sings show tunes and jazz standards with a sprinkling of pop.
“We’ve always had a policy of waiving dues for prospective members who need assistance,” said the group’s executive director, Josh Schmieder. “But the grant from the city has motivated us to do more to make this opportunity known. We hope lots of folks who love to sing — and who would love to be part of a close-knit yet welcoming musical community — will not hesitate to try out for us. Hopefully, we’ll discover some great new talent!”
Founded in 2014, North River Sing presents two programs per year for which members pay dues to participate in so as to cover the group’s operating expenses. Fees have been $195 per season (semi-annually) but are increasing to to $225 this fall, said Schmieder, to meet the higher expenses the organization has incurred for some time.
“We know our dues has presented a barrier to entry for some,” Schmieder said. “That’s why we’re thrilled to spread the word about our financial aid. Ultimately, NRS is about building community.”
North River Sing invites anyone to audition regardless of musical training or choral experience. Auditioners do need to be able to sing on pitch and learn harmonies, said the choir’s musical director, Conrad Chu. Scholarships are meant to assist qualified singers for whom the cost is an impediment, and special consideration will also be given to those who sing parts the chorus is seeking to fill, he added.
According to Schmieder, the chorus will also pay for each grantee’s sheet music.
North River Sing was established by Jersey City resident Liz Morrill “in order to offer local residents the chance to come together to sing the wonderful music of The Great American Songbook and to form the ties choruses just naturally seem to forge.” Though based in Jersey City, NRS welcomes members from anywhere and indeed has several singers from Hoboken and other towns nearby.
“It’s why I named the chorus ‘North River Sing,’ Morrill said. ‘North River’ is an old nickname for that part of the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey. I wanted a name that would not only symbolize our open borders but our musical link to Broadway.”
North River Sing performs throughout metropolitan Jersey City in venues including churches, homeless shelters, nursing homes, and public plazas. Crooning the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Jimmy Van Heusen, George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and Hoagy Carmichael, to name just a few, the group’s hour-long concerts are accompanied by a pianist, bass player, and drummer who have also become part of the choir’s musical family.
To audition for the chorus on either Mon., Aug. 22 or Tues., Sept. 6., readers can visit North River Sing’s website or email info@NorthRiverSing.org. Rehearsals run from 5:45 to 8:00 p.m. on Sundays from September to June at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church just blocks from the Grove Street PATH station.