Peace Together Choir creates hopeful music
John Buckenberger, music director
for the Peace Together Choir, is shown at left as he
leads members in a recent practice at St. Sebastian
Photo: Kathleen Folkerth
By Kathleen Folkerth
WEST AKRON — When Kathy Meyer couldn’t find a recording of hymns she liked, she decided to create one herself.
After talking up the idea with some of her fellow musically inclined friends, the Peace Together Choir was born.
That was in 2000. Today the 30-member choir has three CD releases and a busy concert schedule that has members traveling around Northeast Ohio, especially during the holidays.
“We have the best time together,” said Meyer, a Coventry resident, during a recent practice at St. Sebastian Church in West Akron. “We just love what we are doing.”
Meyer’s wish for a good collection of soothing spiritual music came from her work as a hospice nurse at the Justin T. Rogers Hospice of Visiting Nurse Service in Copley. She saw how music could have a calming effect on patients and their families.
In their first year of existence, the members compiled a list of what they considered classics and then narrowed it down to 15 songs. The resulting CD, released in 2002, was called Hope in the Night.
The choir followed that with a Christmas collection, Gift of Hope: A Christmas Journey, in 2004 and Trust in the Lord: Music of Faith, Hope and Peace in 2006.
John Buckenberger, of Lake Township, serves as music director for the choir. He said the interdenominational, all-volunteer choir is important to him for two reasons.
“Faith, and love of music, period,” he said. “It’s everything to me.”
He said he strives to bring the best to audiences with the choir’s music.
“It has to be sincere,” he said. “It has to have the message that people can go home with.”
Copley resident Melissa Simmons, a cantor at St. Sebastian, joined the group this year.
“It’s got a wonderful mission,” she said. “The music has good spiritual meaning.”
As a nonprofit organization, the choir has been able to donate more than $15,000 to the hospice, Meyer said.
Debby Berkey, vice president of professional services, Hospice and Palliative Care of Visiting Nurse Service, said the choir means a lot to those at hospice.
“They are very well-respected and close to our hearts,” said Berkey, who added the group often participates in events at the facility. “They’re a great group. Not every nonprofit is so fortunate to have a group so dedicated to helping.”
The choir’s CDs are $15 each or $40 for the collection of three. They are available at the hospice as well as Grismer’s and the Akron General Medical Center gift shop. They also can be ordered at the Web site www.hopefulmusic.com or by calling Meyer at (330) 645-9845. CDs also are sold at concerts.
The Peace Together Choir will perform the following free concerts this holiday season in the Greater Akron area:
Nov. 26, 7 p.m., Sumner on Ridgewood, 3880 Ridgewood Road;
Dec. 2, 7 p.m., Church on the Boulevard, 754 Kenmore Blvd.; and
Dec. 16, 3 p.m., Regina Health Center, 5232 Broadview Road, Richfield.