The Grove City Chamber Singers began as an informal group serving as carolers for the city's annual Christmas Celebration in the Town Center.

Over its three decades, the group has evolved and traveled to faraway places such as Austria, Costa Rica and Italy, including a stop at the Vatican, to perform.

But holiday season performances around Grove City and Columbus remain a centerpiece of the group's activities.

The Chamber Singers celebrates its 30th season this year.

"We started out saying to each other, 'Let's all grow old together,' " said Ellen Tate, who founded the Chamber Singers in 1988. "I didn't realize that would really happen. We're there for each other, to support each other, not only as a choral group, but as a group of friends."

Tate was approached to put together a caroling group for the 1989 Grove City Christmas Celebration.

"At that time, it had a Victorian theme, so the idea was to have us stroll around the Town Center," she said.

"Initially, I reached out to old friends I knew who still lived in the Grove City area," Tate said. "As the years have gone by, the bond among our members has grown and we've gotten better and better musically.

"It's as much about the connection we have with each other as it is the music," she said.

The group's journeys to perform in other countries "brings the experience to a whole other level," said Kristi Reed, who joined the group in 2001 and serves as co-director with Tate.

"It's so exciting to make a connection with people through our music," she said.

Twenty-eight people, most from Grove City, are participating as part of the group's 30th edition, although membership has ranged from 25 to 35 people over the years, Tate said.

"We have people who have been part of our group for 25 years and more," she said. "But we also have had a nice influx of younger members, and they have brought a lot of new energy and vitality to the group."

Reed said she knew she was joining something special when she became a member.

"It's such a jewel in our community," she said. "I am a choir director myself, but I wanted to get back to experiencing music on the other side of the podium.

The Chamber Singers kicked off the 30th season with its annual fall concert on Nov. 18.

"We do a formal concert in the fall, and again in the spring, and they are usually built around a theme," Tate said. "The performances we give during the holiday season are more informal and relaxed, focusing on songs of the season, both old and new."

"The holiday season is a special time for us, because it's the reason the group got started to begin with," Reed said. "It's always fun to sing the traditional carols with the newer Christmas songs we all love."

The group performed at the Grant-Sawyer House and in the one-room schoolhouse at Century Village on Dec. 1 as part of the city's Christmas Celebration.

The next holiday performance will be a Christmas concert with the Grove City Community Winds at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Grove City High School, 4665 Hoover Road.

The group will also perform at 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at the State Auto Nativity, 518 E. Broad St., Columbus; 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1777 E. Broad St. in Columbus; and at the Christmas Eve service Dec. 24 at Grove City United Methodist Church.

The annual spring concert will take place at 3:30 p.m. March 17, Tate said, and will feature "The Great American Songbook."

More information about the Grove City Chamber Singers is available at www.gcchambersingers.wixsite.com/gcchambersingers.

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