Arts and Entertainment

Lake Washington Singers share joy of music on Eastside for 60 years

The Lake Washington Singers perform two annual spring and winter concerts. This year’s spring concert will be at 7:30 p.m. on May 18 at the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church.  Below: Lake Washington Singers member Diane Underwood  (front) with president Karen Anderson (center) and Sandra Saenz at Anderson’s Kirkland home.   - Mitch Boss, Contributed
The Lake Washington Singers perform two annual spring and winter concerts. This year’s spring concert will be at 7:30 p.m. on May 18 at the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church. Below: Lake Washington Singers member Diane Underwood (front) with president Karen Anderson (center) and Sandra Saenz at Anderson’s Kirkland home.
— image credit: Mitch Boss, Contributed

The women of the Lake Washington Singers have graced the Eastside with song for 60 years and they’re far from finished.

In fact, they’re open to expansion. For all of January the choral group will open up auditioning for their annual spring concert in May. But this choir is not quite as stringent as some others.

“We’re asking for gals who like to sing, who have a good ear and can blend with the choir and are willing to participate,” said Kirkland resident Karen Anderson, the Lake Washington Singers president since 2001. “It is a fun group.”

The Lake Washington Singers non-profit was founded in 1952 by members of the Eastside Chapter of the American Association of University Women. And their mission is simple: To share the joy of singing with the community.

The group of 30 to 40 members fluctuates throughout time but the organization’s unique “non-auditioning” concept allows women to join without being required to know how to read music.

Although Anderson notes about 75 percent of the group is musically experienced, the group’s open policy has encouraged a diverse group of women, which include those with mental disabilities or blindness to stay-at-home mothers or retirees. Singers are as young as their early 20s to as old as their 80s.

But Redmond resident Diane Underwood, who has been with the group since 1983, says the non-profit’s main purpose is to raise money for their annual scholarship recipient.

“We really get a lot of applicants,” said Underwood. “Many (who win) keep in touch with us, it’s really good.”

Anderson adds that several of the winners have gone “quite a distance” with their vocal career.

Applicants submit an audio clip of them singing with their application and then the Lake Washington Singers narrow down the pick to the top three. After a vote, the winner receives $500 toward vocal training and the runner-ups are awarded $250 each. Additionally, the winner is invited to solo the group’s spring concert scheduled for May 18 at the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church.

The singers often have an opportunity to travel with the choir - the group has been to Barcelona, Spain and the British Isles among other places. And they hope to perform “Around the World in Song” at the Montana International Festival this July.

But joining the chorus entails more than traveling, singing and fund raising. The ladies attest that their close-knit choir will offer camaraderie.

“When I first joined (in 2007), it lifted my spirits,” said Sandra Saenz, a member and Kirkland resident. “It gave me something to look forward to and I felt like I was doing something in the community as well. The ladies in the choir are very supportive of each other.”

Saenz mentioned that support extends by way of birthday cards, hospital visits or simply lending an ear to listen and a song to sing.

“I think it’s been a case of sanity,” said Anderson. “In the midst of turmoil or crisis that people are dealing with in their daily lives, being able to sing totally removes them from all that for a little bit and gives them the joy of music.”

To join, contact Director Jane Blount at director@LakeWashingtonSingers.org or call 206-363-6874. The group practices every Monday, 7 p.m. at the Bellevue Christian School on Clyde Hill.

To stay updated on the Lake Washington Singers mini-concerts and events or to hear their past performances, visit www.lakewashingtonsingers.org.

LWS

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