Blending Voices With Friendship
Comprised of 23 women from towns throughout the West Branch Valley from Cogan Station to Selinsgrove, and Jersey Shore to Jerseytown, the Heart of Pennsylvania singing group has ties to the Muncy area.
Driving through a snow storm to attend the formation meeting of a women’s chorus in January 2000, Pat Rickert was destined to become much involved with the women’s barber shop chorus known as “Heart of Pennsylvania.”
Twenty years ago she’d heard a similar group at Watsontown and expressed her interest to a co-worker who’d been a part of the now disbanded “Sweet Adelines” in Williamsport.
“I enjoyed the bass part, which most suited my voice,” Rickert said. She’d loved to sing though she’d had no voice training beyond high school and church choirs of her youth.
When in her ’30s, her voice went downhill from smoking; at 45 she kicked the habit and returned to singing.
In 1972, Pat and now-late husband David moved to the area where he was employed by Sprout-Waldron until 1998 in the Drafting/CAD/CAM department. In 1977, the couple purchased a home in Chippewa Acres.
Linda Weaver joined as a bass in March 2000. She’d sung with “The Madrigals,” an acapella group while at Bloomsburg University. “That was 25 years ago and now with children grown, I had to have a hobby out of the house,” Weaver said.
Weaver said the group adds new songs each season with greater difficulty. “I’ve got Rhythm” and “I get a Kick out of You” are two of her recent favorites.
Weaver is part of a second quartet group known as “Heart’s Desire.”
Joining four years ago, Wanda Deitrick sings melody in the lead section. While at Watsontown High School, Wanda qualified for district chorus during her senior year.
Other talented family members included her father and daughter. Arthur Steele sang with the Lillian Rider choir in Williamsport and later for 17 years with a group in West Palm Beach, FL.
Deitrick’s ties with Muncy include a nephew and his sons; Michael, Dougie and David Steele.
Singing bass since 2006, Jane Martin was introduced to the chorus by golfing buddy and friend Mary Robbins. “She asked me to come and see what it was all about,” Martin said. Martin worked 17 years at Andritz while living off and on in Muncy.
Susan Kelly hopes to overcome performance anxiety and attain comic revenge for not being chosen for chorus while in Williamsport’s junior/senior high school.
Residing in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, Kelly laughingly said her career had been either a waiting actress or an actress in waiting. “I knew Jay Leno before he was Jay Leno,” she said of working in a comedy group of five.
Kelly’s travels brought her back near her starting point, and as she explained, “It took me 35 years to move 15 miles down the road. I love Muncy,’ she said, “So cute and charming it’s like living in a movie, more specifically Bedford Falls from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Kelly volunteers at Myers Elementary and counts among her friends, Ann Pfleegor, Sandra Eck and Pat Rickert, the latter with who she rides to chorus practice.
With an extensive musical background, Dee Casteel directs the chorus, and is always interested in expanding membership. Rehearsals take place each Thursday, 7 p.m. at Beaver Memorial UM Church, 42 S. Third Street, Lewisburg.