Since its inception in 2012, the Bucks County Women’s Chorus has accomplished quite a few impressive feats – amassing 95 voices in its ensemble, traveling across Europe, singing alongside Foreigner at Parx Casino and, in 2018, performing holiday tunes in the historic East Wing of the White House.
For BCWC’s artistic director Pat Guth, landing consistently-cooler gigs can be challenging. But somehow, she keeps making it happen.
On Friday, Dec. 13, the ladies traveled by bus to Washington, D.C. to lend their talents to the White House Holiday Open House for the second consecutive year – something they never thought possible.
“We kind of took a chance on the fact that they might let us come two years in a row. I had heard of other groups that have actually performed several times, so we figured we’d give it a try,” Guth said.
At the end of the summer, Guth submitted an application, which included MP3 files of the chorus singing and an essay on why she thought they should be considered. Guth explained how the BCWC encompasses any and all types of vocalists.
“The choir represents every woman because we range in age from 24 to almost 90 years old, and our members come from all walks of life and a number of different towns,” she said.
Once again, the BCWC was invited to appear at the annual open house, which this year began on Dec. 2 and continued through Dec. 21, and included entertainment by musical ensembles from around the world.
Fifty selected singers, as well as Guth and the choir’s accompanist Susan Clark, boarded a bus at 4:45 a.m. to arrive at the White House by 9 a.m.
“Everybody seemed to be wide awake and really excited,” Guth said. “There wasn’t quiet on the bus at all. Everybody was really looking forward to the experience.”
After going through security, the group was led to the East Wing, where they performed a one-hour set for VIP guests and their families. The theme this year was “Holiday Journeys,” so Guth incorporated Austrian and Puerto Rican pieces, in addition to classics like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Jingle Bells.”
“We had a lot of world music,” she said. “At one point when we were singing, there was a mom and her two kids singing along with us in Spanish, so apparently we connected with the audience. That was pretty neat when we turned around and saw that happening.”
Despite being scheduled for one hour, the women ended up performing for 90 minutes at the request of Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
“When our hour had concluded, our host at the White House came up to me and whispered in my ear that ‘the Secretary’ seemed to really be enjoying our music and asked us to keep singing,” Guth said. “I didn’t realize to whom he was referring until I turned around and saw Ben Carson. Of course, we weren’t going to disappoint him.”
According to Guth, not every member of the chorus is a fan of Carson or the current president. Still, they put their political beliefs aside to take part in this rare opportunity.
“I didn’t hear anybody mention the president’s name or anything negative the entire day. That was just left at home and everybody was there for the magnificence of the experience,” Guth said. “I’m glad people looked at it that way because I know a lot of the people who were on the trip with us are not supporters of the current administration. But I wouldn’t have known it that day.”
The rest of the afternoon was spent having lunch at the District ChopHouse and touring the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the National Portrait Gallery and a Christmas market.
“We made a full day of it,” Guth said. “Everyone was tired, but it was a wonderful day.”
Throughout 2020, the BCWC has a number of shows to look forward to, including a week in Athens and the Greek Islands. The chorus also recently applied to appear in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.
“We have to keep up with last year because last year we sang with Foreigner,” Guth said with a laugh. “It’s hard to find things that measure up each year. You want to be as exciting as the year before, but it’s hard sometimes. So, we’ll see what happens this year.” ••
The Bucks County Women’s Chorus rehearses each Monday evening in Holland. For more information, visit buckscountywomenschorus.com.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com