Formed by vaudeville entertainer Esther Rivelli Brown back in 1971, today the group boasts about 60 seniors whose ages fall between the early 60s all the way up to 90.
They meet to rehearse each Wednesday in Room D for an hour, between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., and a plaque outside the room acknowledges Rivelli, who died in 1998.
It says, “Esther’s charm and vitality will be missed. Her dedication to the seniors in Huntington Beach made a difference.”
This is some more background from one of the coordinators of the group (and a lovely singer herself), Dianne Shirley: “Our singing group was formed in 1971 as a voluntary service organization, hopefully to bring pleasure to our community, especially our seniors. We entertain in senior community centers, retirement homes, convalescent hospitals, care homes and adult day-care centers. We are a voluntary service organization, and we are all seniors. We hope that we will inspire and encourage some of the seniors who listen to us to join in the fun, have a few chuckles and make life a little merrier. If we can encourage them to join us in singing, then we feel rewarded for our effort.”
Wally Benton, a retired architect, has served as the group’s conductor for several years.
Acting as a sort of Fred Waring or Mitch Miller, he leads the group from the front of the room, stopping from time to time to clarify nuances in the songs.
Incredibly, every month the group’s repertoire changes, swapping out 25 or so songs each time to reflect the theme of that particular month. For instance, January features show tunes, February is love songs, March is St. Patrick’s music, April is light, spring songs and so on.