- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

A group of people who love to sing were joined by a group of admirers who love to hear them do it during a Tuesday evening soiree at the Embassy of France.

It was the Washington Chorus’ annual fall fund-raiser, this year honoring Janet Brown and Michael Brewer, a music-minded married couple known for their ardent support of the arts in this city.

The 200 guests included National Symphony Orchestra conductor Leonard Slatkin, who served as honorary chair of the event; Ambassador Jan Eliasson of Sweden; Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno of Colombia; philanthropists Dorothy and Bill McSweeny; and Knight and Ann Kiplinger (both of whom are members of the chorus). They all showed up to pay tribute to the honorees and to celebrate the unifying power of song — quite literally, in one case.

Mr. Kiplinger, who’s been singing with the group for 32 years and is chairman emeritus, met his wife in the chorus 25 years ago. “She was in the soprano section; I was in the bass section,” he said, adding with a smile, “She was dating someone else in the bass section at the time, and I didn’t know it, but we straightened that all out.”

Although the 43-year-old Washington Chorus is one of a handful of all-volunteer choruses in Washington, it’s held its head higher since receiving a Grammy for best choral performance in 2000, beating several higher-profile nominees from major record labels. But, Mr. Kiplinger noted, none of that matters when they show up for practice each Monday night. “We leave our day job at the door, and we enter a world of great music. It’s nonprofessionals performing at the highest levels of excellence.”

The chorus’s home is the Kennedy Center, where it often performs with Mr. Slatkin and the NSO. And even if it’s a volunteer venture, the singers say, it involves a serious commitment.

The evening included a buffet supper and a short concert by a group of about 40 singers from the Washington Chorus called the Outreach Singers — who, beyond their regular work with the chorus, sing at area hospitals and nursing homes.

Proceeds raised from the event (tickets were $125), will benefit outreach programs and the general education and artistic budget.

Christina Ianzito

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