Dick Biery, valley chorus president, presents marilyn weber of "The bridge" with a check for $800. The donation was raised through the valley chorus "Capers' program, which was held on march 1, 2015.
From left to right is larry hoey, valley chorus concert pianist; Debra Lauper, concert director; Dick Biery, valley chorus president; and Marilyn Weber of the bridge.
On January 31, 2014, our Valley Chorus family and our greater valley community lost one of its finest matriarch's and musical ambassador's, Clara Belle Palmer Delill. Belle’s love of god, country, family and community was evident in her tireless devotion to teaching and leading our organization as music director. She was beloved by generations of children and youth, whose lives were marked by her leadership, adults who were inspired by her counsel, and elderly who were warmed by her devoted care. Belle gave encouragement and strength to those in need as she walked through life with them.
Belle began her affiliation with the valley chorus in 1966 as a member under the direction of our founder, art rae. Art chose Belle to sing her first solo “in a little Village of Bethlehem” as a part of the christmas concert that year. Belle would go on to accompany the valley chorus for 20 years and in 2004, was named our new director. Belle celebrated the beginning of her tenth season as our director in 2014.
Outside of the valley chorus, Belle taught vocal music at waverly high school for 10 years, and also served for 33 years as director of music and organist for the sayre presbyterian church. For 42 years, she privately taught music almost every day of the week in the hopes of inspiring others to her love of music.
“thank-you belle for your countless years of loyalty and devotion to the valley chorus; we miss you.”
The Valley Chorus Family.
Clara Belle Palmer de lill, 64, passed away at home, 796 douglas drive, in waverly, new york, on friday, january 31, 2014, after a brief illness. She was born in sayre, pennsylvania on september 16, 1949, the only child of the late stanton mark palmer and evelyn halstead palmer, who together operated the palmer house in waverly for many years. Belle was something of a miracle baby owing to the fact that her mother gave birth to her at the age of 44 following a great many unsuccessful pregnancies, while belle’s father was 66! Mr. Palmer believed that travel was an integral part of a child’s education, and as a result, she’d been to every state in the union except for two by the time she completed high school. Mrs. Palmer was the home economics teacher at waverly high school and under her tutelage belle honed her incredible culinary skills, from which we all delightfully benefited. Belle was a self-taught expert on many subjects and was a true renaissance woman. Conversations with her were unforgettable.
She began music lessons at the tender age of three, and by the time she was 14 had her first job as organist for church services at the waverly methodist church. In 1966 she began her long association with the valley chorus as a 17-year-old singing under the direction of art rae, and with her amazing voice was soon singing solos.
A 1967 graduate of waverly high school, belle earned her bachelor’s degree in music education and performance in 1971 from westminster choir college in princeton, new jersey. Belle has been an inspirational musician in the valley for many years, providing instrumental and vocal music for countless weddings, funerals, and special events. She served as organist and choir director for church of the redeemer in sayre, and in the same capacity at sayre presbyterian church for thirty-three years. For many years, the highlight of the christmas eve service was her incredible vocal performance of “o holy night.” Belle was the waverly high school chorus accompanist for ten years while for twenty years she accompanied the valley chorus, serving as its director for the last ten years. Belle also taught private vocal, piano, and organ lessons to children and adults for over forty years. She wore many hats during those lessons, and many of her students appreciated their side-chats and miss belle’s wisdom and understanding. Many well-wishers have expressed the sentiment that the valley community has lost one of its finest ambassadors of the musical arts, while heaven has gained another angel.
Belle became an instant mom to five children when she married robert william de lill on october 11, 1975. Together belle and bob had two more children, and recently celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary. They operated several businesses together over the years including a produce stand on banana curve, an ice cream stand on elmira’s southside, and a specialty candle shop from their home. Theirs was a symbiotic relationship with one balancing out the other and they were proud of the fact they never had an argument. There wouldn’t have been any point, because we know who would have won. Bob sadly mourns the sudden loss of his best friend. Honey bear, belle’s beloved bison frise, is already missing her mama but keeping dad company.
In addition to her loving husband, belle is survived by six children for whom her absence is still not yet quite real. They are: robin de lill (rusty) stroman, gail de lill straub, jean de lill knapp fritzman, scott (julie) de lill, mark de lill (& friend tammy), and heather de lill. Her grandchildren are robert, katherine, and daniel stroman; sonja klugo, jamie, ryanna, and reagan straub; eric and brent knapp; caden, nathan, and lauryn de lill; mark connor and alex volpe; and qualyn terry. Belle is also survived by her sisters-in-law beverly de lill sherman of arizona and dolores de lill vargo of chemung and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her uncle kenneth halstead, whose widow, aunt christina of florida, survives at the age of 100. Her mother- and father-in-law harold and clara de lill of lockwood have also passed away, as did her son robert william de lill, jr. In 1983.
Belle also leaves behind many friends who were like family, in particular “sisters” judy richter and pam and Elaine Kellogg, Dawn and Glen McCoy, Steph Murphy, and Pat Wanck. The family extends warm thanks to doctor blood and nurse pam (seamstress extraordinaire) for their loving care during belle’s illness. There are many more dear ones too numerous to mention, but though you aren’t named, your importance in Belle’s life is no less appreciated and there’s no doubt belle made sure you knew that.
A joyful musical celebration of belle’s life will take place hosted by pastor andrew weidner at the athens methodist church on south main street in athens on saturday, February 8, 2014. The family will have a time of visitation from 1 P.M. To 4 P.M. With a musical celebration to follow. Pastors nelson kopatz and chuck carver will conduct the service while musical direction will be overseen by dear friend and valley chorus accompanist Larry Hoey. Following the service there will be a time of fellowship in the church social hall. Those wishing to remember belle with a memorial gift may direct donations in her memory to the valley chorus, P. O. Box 145, Athens, PA 18810. Altieri-bowen funeral home of Sayre is assisting the family.
By C.J. Marshall (Staff Writer - The Daily Review, Towanda, PA) - Published: January 31, 2011
The strains of classical, popular, country and Broadway filled the auditorium of the Sayre Theatre on Sunday as members of the Valley Chorus put on a program of music and fun to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
Belle DeLill, director of the Valley Chorus, explained that the benefit is the group's first major fundraiser.
"All the money is going to Habitat for Humanity," DeLill said, explaining that all the expenses - such as the renting of the theatre, have already been paid for by participating members as well as other people. This helped them keep the cost of the tickets down, DeLill said.
"We felt that $10 a ticket would be something that people would come out for," she explained. The reason for the benefit, DeLill said, is allow the Valley Chorus to provide a service to the community. She explained that government grants and other similar sources of revenue are drying up, and they want to try to fill the gap.
"You can't depend on government grants any more," she explained. "Especially in the arts."
Performances included "Ol' Man River," by Joe Blood; "They Can't Take That Away From Me," by Peggy Tracy; "You'll Never Walk Alone," by Sandy Edsell, Cindy Jones, Jack Patterson, and John Liechty; and "Summertime" by Rosanette Abrams. Guest instrumentals were performed by John Manfredi, Toni Bamiano, Dave Zimmerman, Corky Klinko and Belle DeLill.
"The Valley Chorus is a wonderful organization," DeLill explained. "We have people who come together once a week. The group was organized back in 1955, and gave its first performance in 1956.
DeLill explained that the Valley Chorus puts on productions twice a year for the community. In the Spring, around Mother's Day, she said, their production will be "Broadway, All Ways."
"We're going to feature music from barbershop quartets all the way up to hall concerts," she said. "We want to give the community a taste of serious music, along with some major fun stuff like the Boston Pops. In Spring 2012 we're doing to do a patriotic theme. We try to vary it up."
What makes the Valley Chorus unique in the area, DeLill explained, is the variety of music the group offers. Many musical organizations offer a limited selection of music to perform, but the Valley Chorus allows its people to try many different kinds of music, she said.
The group is open to people from all walks of life, DeLill said. "All you have to do is come and pay your $10," DeLill said. "You don't even have to audition." She said that they have one performer who is 15 years old whose father drives her up from Dushore. "We have a lot of people from within a 60 to 70 mile radius (of the Valley)," DeLill explained.
The Valley Chorus sang both traditional and non-traditional music dedicated to America and its origins during Saturday’s “America Sings” concert.
By Matt Hicks
Morning Times - Mon May 12, 2008
Many traveled to Waverly High School Saturday for the Valley Chorus’s latest concert, “America Sings: A Musical Tribute to our Country’s Heritage and All Five Branches of the Military.”
Director Clara Belle DeLill described the evening as one of dedication in recognizing how the U.S. came to be a free country. “It’s very seldom we find, especially having war in the headlines all the time, people reminded that people fought hard, lost their lives, and continue to do so to support our freedoms that we sometimes take for granted,” she said.
DeLill added that the concert was not only dedicated to the country’s heritage, but also to Pat Parsons, a Valley Chorus member since 1982 who lost her battle with cancer Friday evening on the eve of the show. Her late husband Don was also a member who lost his fight to brain cancer on the day of their last concert, DeLill explained.
A color guard kicked off the concert as the choir marched to the front of the auditorium preluding the “Star Spangled Banner.” Further recognition for those who have served the country was given during a performance of “Armed Forces - Pride of America” as narrator Chuck Carver announced each branch of the military and those in the audience who’ve served stood up to receive their recognition.
The youth of the area were also honored for their accomplishments. In a Valley Chorus first, their annual awards to local senior students who’ve excelled in vocal music and community involvement were presented in front of those in attendance. Earning honorable mentions were Sayre’s Luke Skerpon, Athens’s Contessa Crum, and Tioga’s Alex MacDonald. The third place award of $100 was awarded to Waverly’s Rochelle Carlisle, who wasn’t in attendance, as she was traveling with the Waverly High School band. Earning $150 and second place was Waverly’s Derek Scrivener, while Tioga’s Brandon Benesh was awarded the top $250 prize.
Sayre eighth grader Sarah Polinski was also recognized for her essay “Why I Am an American Patriot,” which beat out 110,000 other student writers in the VFW’s national Patriot’s Pen contest. She presented the essay to a standing ovation.
The following posted comments are from the Morning Times on-line edition of the newspaper:
This concert was wonderful. We travel from out of this area to attend the Valley Chorus concerts. I always leave feeling refreshed from the warm, genuine people in this area. The military presence and remembrance brought tears to many eyes. The love of music truly shows through with this Chorus and its leadership. Having young people included in the program was such a great bonus. Thanks to all for your dedication to this chorus!!
Members of the Valley Chorus are pictured here rehearsing for this weekend’s concert, entitled “America Sings: A Musical Tribute to Our Great Nation and All Five Branches of the Armed Forces.”
by Warren Howler
Morning Times - Tuesday, May 06, 2008
The Valley Chorus is all warmed up and set to take the Waverly High School stage Saturday to present “America Sings: A Tribute To Our Great Nation and All Five Branches of the Armed Forces."
“We wanted to do something to help people remember the beginning of our country,” explained director Belle DeLill, “because today, so many things are going on . . . It’s a tribute to our country and everything it stands for.”
The performance will feature classics “God Bless America,” “This Is My Country,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” along with the non-traditional “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears,” and “Song of the Unsung Hero.” A 27 piece concert band with members hailing from as far as Cortland, Scranton, Sidney and Corning will support the chorus and be featured playing “National Emblem” and “American Salute.” The Color Guard will open Saturday’s performance backed by the chorus who will be singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“It’s a wonderful program for those interested in hearing traditional and newer things,” said DeLill. The performance will not only honor the country’s foundations, according to DeLill, it will also show thanks to those who have sacrificed their lives for freedom over the years starting with the Revolutionary War.
“These pieces have just as much story as in melody. They need to be heard and honored,” said DeLill. In addition to all of the music will be Sayre eighth-grade student Sarah Polinski reading her essay “Why I am an American Patriot,” which was recognized as the national winner of the Veterans of Foreign Wars “Patriot’s Pen” essay contest.
The Valley Chorus’ scholarship winners will also be recognized with $250 awarded to the top honoree, $150 to the runner up and $100 to third place.
DeLill calls the concert a rare commodity for the Valley, with few live performances encompassing the scale the Valley Chorus is able to achieve. Tickets are available at the Dandy Mini-Marts located in Sayre and Athens Township, Carl’s Newsstand, Jay Furniture, Jayne’s Flower Shop and Yale’s Music at a cost of $7, and $10 if purchased the night of the concert at the door. Prepurchased tickets can also be used on the date of purchase for a discounted meal at the Best Western, Original Italian Grille, Beeman’s and Grace Chinese Buffet.
The performance will begin at 7 p.m. on May 10 in the Waverly High School Auditorium. A basket raffle, Priscilla Ammerman painting raffle and cookbook sale will also be held to help raise funds for the chorus.
In 2006, 2007 and 2008, by invitation of the Pennsylvania State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police,
The Valley Chorus participated in the 13th, 14th and 15th annual state lodge police memorial services honoring all pennsylvania law enforcement fallen heroes who gave the "Ultimate sacrifice" for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the performance of their duties. These ceremonies were held at the state capital building in Harrisburg on Monday, May 10, 2006, Monday, May 7, 2007 and Monday, May 5, 2008.
Arthur a. Rae, age 82 years, of painted post, ny, left the loving arms of his family at home into the loving arms of jesus on thursday, february, 28, 2008, following a short illness of cancer. He is survived by his devoted wife of 56 years, dorothy june wheeler rae; and beloved daughters, marilee rae of corning, ny, kathy and bruce bowman of lindley, ny, laurie beth and william zeck of gainesville, va, april lynn rae of owego; son, douglas j. Rae of painted post, ny. Grandchildren include kit bowman, kelsey and sydney smith. Arthur was the son of the late arthur w. Rae of bermuda, and katherine kentch rae of waverly, ny.
He had four older sisters, lillias, dorotha, margaret, bertha; and two younger brothers, donald and robert. He is survived by margaret saunders of waverly, and dorotha edgeworth of clearwater, fl; along with several nieces and nephews and extended family.
Arthur served his country during wwii in the 11th port of rowen, france, and was in the normandy invasion. After service he graduated from ithaca college, earning his degrees (bachelor's, master's and doctorate). Mr. Rae was a well known music teacher, having taught in new york state for 50 years. He was the vocal and marching band director in his first school in canaseroga, ny. He also taught in his hometown of waverly, thomas a. Edison high school in elmira heights, ny, and retired from horseheads high school, where he had marching band and vocal music. Many will remember the broadway musicals brought to the area by rae.
He and mrs. Edna klungle presented "Oklahoma", "Annie get your gun", "The king and I " and "Music man". He organized and directed the elmira men's chorus, which was active for many years – they presented "Salute to america" and the peach orchard festival in watkins glen, ny; also he organized and directed the valley chorus of sayre, athens and waverly, which has presented many major works.
He has directed the oakwood united methodist church choir for many years. One of his greatest joys was leading the "Alleluia choir" to many area churches. Mr. Rae was a professional dancer and became a cuer for many round dancers, connected with square dancing. He taught ballroom dancing with his wife, dottie at their own club called the "Dancing raes" in horseheads, ny. In his last few years he has enjoyed wal-mart, where he was named greeter of the year. Mr. Rae often said music was god's gift to him. He poured his gifts out freely into many young lives.
Family and friends are invited to call at oakwood united methodist church in elmira heights, monday, march 3, 2008, from 12 noon to 4:00 p.M. A funeral service will follow with pastor patrick holder officiating directly after calling hours at 4:00 p.M. Interment with full military rites will be held at a later date at the family plot in presho cemetery, lindley, ny. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the haughey funeral home, 216 e. First st., corning, ny.
Those wishing may remember arthur through donations to oakwood united methodist church, 212 oakwood ave., elmira heights, ny 14901, or southern tier hospice, 11751 east corning rd., corning, ny 14830.
By christine v. Sulat
May 7, 2006
It's not unusual for the valley chorus to have a spring concert.
After all, the members' raised voices have been entertaining people at least twice a year for several decades.
But the may 13 concert is a special one for the 90 or so members. Not only does it mark the group's 50th anniversary, it also showcases the return of seven former directors, who will lead the chorus in some of their favorite music.
“we tried to pull the history of the chorus together for the celebration,” said belle delill of waverly, the current director. “each of the past directors is able to conduct a piece of their choosing.”
Expected to return are:
•art rae, the founding director, who also staged “the sound of music” with the chorus and brought musicals to the elmira heights school district.
•david kaley, a chorus member in the 1960s, chorus director for nine years in the 1970s and a waverly teacher.
•norman campbell, director from 1977 to 1980 and an athens area high school teacher.
•james hillman, a member of the chorus while in high school and college and director from 1980 to 1981. He teaches in waverly.
•duane “corky” klinko, director from 1986 to 1992 and a waverly teacher.
•john felt, director from 1992 to 1995, who taught in towanda and now teaches in corning elementary schools.
•david h. Smith, director from 1999 to 2004, who staged “scrooge, the musical” for the chorus. He teaches at corning west high school.
The guests will direct the chorus for the first half of the concert, and delill, who began as a chorus member in 1966 while a student in waverly high school and moved on to soloist and piano accompanist, will direct the second half.
The first half of any valley chorus concert is usually when the audience hears more serious or classical music, such as brahm's “requiem.” the second half has lighter songs.
“we all learn something from the music,” said evelyn nichols of athens township, who has sung in every concert since 1978.
“we try for all types of music in a concert. Some are tough for people to learn,” delill said. “but there's a point when it all comes together.”
Often, the valley chorus performs with just piano for accompaniment. At the 50th anniversary concert, however, voices will blend with several instruments: larry hoey on piano, chuck stout on percussion, toni damiano on bass, jessie bennett on sax, duane klinko on trumpet and neil klinko on trombone.
People who join the chorus don't necessarily have to have outstanding voices. In fact, there's no audition for the general group.
“we're all there for the love of the music,” nichols said.
“it's also a wonderful way to meet people when you're new to the valley,” said sarah ransom of sayre, a member off and on since 1991.
“there's real continuity in the group,” she said. “one director's mother had sung in the chorus, some families have several members and some couples have met and married while members. It's an opportunity to leave the workplace behind and do something totally different.”
“and the rehearsal time goes by so fast,” said alice boston of sayre, a member off and on since 1957.
The chorus is made up of singers of all ages and from all walks of life.
Boston is likely the oldest right now at age 85. But one woman, margaret shin, sang until she was 95. The minimum age to join is 15.
Because the chorus is made up of people who generally come together only once a week for rehearsals, there is an effort to provide events away from rehearsal so they can get to know each other, delill said.
“it forms a stronger unit,” she said. “it's nice to get to know the person you're standing next to when you sing.”
The valley chorus began in october 1955 when the rev. Homrig house approached someone in the waverly recreation department about starting a musical group in the valley.
Art rae, then a waverly teacher, was asked about putting on handel's “messiah.”
The chorus' first performance, with about 60 people singing “messiah,” followed that january. A concert of brahm's “requiem” followed in april 1956.
A repeat of “messiah” that december was broadcast on channel 24 tv from elmira and was sponsored by ingersoll-rand.
These days, money to run the chorus comes from many sources.
In addition to several state grants, money is raised from advertising space in the program, a fund drive in the beginning of the year, donations from businesses and residents, ticket sales and $10 a concert from each member.
Rehearsals and performances are at athens area high school; the district donates the space. The singers rehearse for two hours on monday nights for about 14 weeks before each year's two concerts.
Because guest directors are coming in for the concert, there will be just a short time for each to rehearse with the chorus, although the singers have been practicing each piece.
“But the chorus needs to know what to expect from each director,” said delill, who arranged the rehearsal time.
Delill said it sometimes can be frustrating “for singers to see the directors from a distance” and not get to know them well.
To ease the transition for the anniversary concert, a celebration luncheon will be held that day at tomasso's restaurant. Past members are invited and can contact delill for tickets.
Chorus members don't necessarily confine their singing to two concerts a year. The vibrant voices, made up of 16 chorus members who have to audition, perform for benefits, open houses, senior citizens and other events to which they're invited.
Last week, the valley chorus sang at the state of the pennsylvania capitol building in harrisburg for a ceremony in honor of fallen police officers.
As much as the members enjoy traveling to share their music, it's the hometown crowd they like to please, and they're really looking forward to the anniversary concert.
Said boston: “people will really enjoy the music.”
April 10, 2006
The valley chorus was the recipient of a $5,000.00 grant from the state of pennsylvania commemorating our 50th anniversary. Presenting the check to valley chorus vice-president, Dr. Joseph Blood, is state representative Tina Pickett.