[San Juan Silver Stage | November 2020 | Stacey Ryan, Interview with Priscilla Fry, Valley Symphony Assoc.]
Priscilla Fry, VSA Chorus. Courtesy photo.
I come from a family of talented musician-singers and have sung all my life. I started with a solo at age 5 in “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” at a little country church where my aunt was the pianist. I wanted to play the harp, but my Dad convinced me I would look silly trying to lug a harp down the football field with the band! I started alto saxophone at age 10 and took up the oboe in 8th grade.
I moved from Mansfield, Ohio, to Montrose, Colorado, in January 1994. When I first heard about the VSO being all-volunteer, I was surprised. I came from a city that had a paid professional orchestra. From that time, I was determined to do anything I could to help the organization evolve. I no longer played an instrument, so I decided to give money and time.
From the fall of 1994 through this September’s Pops in the Park concert, I continued with my music by singing with the various groups that eventually became the VSA Chorus, like the Grand Mesa Singers. As part of the Christmas in the Valley chorus, I drove to Cedaredge for practice and purchased my own music.
For a number of years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these groups were seasonal contributors alongside the VSO, mainly for Christmas concerts. The “Valley Symphony Orchestra” became the “Valley Symphony Association” to include the chorus along with the orchestra in 2002, which is the season the chorus started doing their own performances along with the orchestra’s seasonal subscription of concerts. Since then, the chorus has been provided music and a paid director. I am proud to have helped establish the chorus as part of the VSA, because having both entities attracts more people to participate, musicians and concertgoers alike.
This will be the first Christmas since 1994 that I have not sung with the chorus. In 2016, my husband, Sprague Mayger, and I moved to Grand Junction to be near my daughter, Vanessa Sprang, and grandson, Kayci Keenan, who were both in chorus members at the time, too. For two years, the three of us drove to Delta every week for practice. Those times will always hold wonderful memories for me; it was truly special for three generations of our family to sing in the VSA Chorus together.
Kayci and I sing in the choir at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Junction, and Vanessa joins us in the 120-member concert choir. In July of 2019 the group traveled to England, Scotland, and Ireland to perform in various churches. My three sisters from Ohio joined the three of us on this extraordinary musical and multi-generational trip.
I joined the board in 2008 with hopes to further promote the VSA regionally, encourage musician participation, and increase audience attendance. I am pleased to be part of its history, progress, and mounting visibility in the Uncompahgre and North Fork Valleys. The board continues to see great strides in the growth of the orchestra and chorus, and we are thrilled to be attracting more sponsors and bigger audiences. We appreciate everyone’s support and hope you will continue to be strong patrons to help us bring classical music to Colorado’s Western Slope.