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Bill Snyder is retiring as artistic director and conductor of the Roanoke Valley Choral Society.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Bill and Judy Snyder are seen Wednesday in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Salem, where he is director of music and she is organist.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The Roanoke Valley Choral Society has appropriately titled its free spring concert on Monday “Unforgettable.”
The 7:30 p.m. concert at Roanoke’s First Presbyterian Church, 2101 S. Jefferson St., marks a poignant transition for the society that was organized 28 years ago. It’s billed as “an exciting tribute to ‘unforgettable’ music celebrating the 13th year William G. Snyder has been the artistic director and conductor of the Roanoke Valley Choral Society.”
It really marks the departure of Bill Snyder and his wife, organist and accompanist Judy Snyder.
A reception honoring the Snyders will be held in the church’s fellowship hall immediately after the concert that also features The Milberger Section Quartet, an aspiring jazz ensemble.
Alto Shelia Barger said the concert celebrates the “unforgettable” moments of artistic contributions that the Snyders have provided and includes “a variety of unforgettable music that spans decades of great composers.”
The Snyders have expended a lot of energy with the chorus and made many friends during the past 13 years, they said, adding “it’s just time to pass the torch on to someone much younger.”
They are calling their departure a retirement, with Bill Snyder, 69, teasingly adding, “I still have another 50 years of music in my head but I don’t have it in my body.
“It’s been a thrill to be able to do very fine, sophisticated music and work with good singers,” he said.
He has been all over the music spectrum — conducting and directing church, school and community choral groups, teaching, singing and playing instruments. He directed his first choir when he was 17, taking over a children’s choir that his mother organized.
His all-consuming resume includes organizing a Marshall University choir that has become the college’s top performance choral group; being a bass soloist; and even a stint as a drum major.
He’s particularly honored and proud that many of his former students have followed in his musical steps and are singers, choral musicians, teachers, directors and conductors.
Snyder’s successor, who will be formally presented during Monday’s concert, is one of his peers and former high school students.
“I told the board that I’m humble to be filling very big shoes,” Patricia Trail said in a telephone interview. “I’m going to miss having Bill Snyder conducting me because I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Trail is a soprano in the chorus and has served in various capacities with the choral society’s board of directors. She substituted for Snyder when he was ill a couple of years ago.
Although she has performed under other directors, Trail said, “I’ve never learned as much as I’ve learned from Bill. Bar none, he’s had the best high school choirs around here.”
As music major at Roanoke College, Trail also sang with the Virginia Choral Society that Snyder directed under the college’s musical umbrella.
But, “the first time I was taught by Bill Snyder was when I was 14 at Andrew Lewis High School and then at Salem High School,” said Trail, who also is a piano teacher.
Trail is director of music and children’s ministry for First Presbyterian Church and has been director of music for Waverly Place Baptist Church, and director of children’s and hand bell choirs for Calvary Baptist Church. She also has been a soloist for choral society performances.
“She’s going to do a good job. She’s very capable,” Snyder said of his successor.
Although they no longer will have direct connection with the Roanoke Valley Choral Society, the Snyders will continue to blend their talents at the First United Methodist Church in Salem, where he is director of music and she is the organist. They also are open to invitations as guest artists.
Judy Snyder started playing the piano when she was 8 years old, and began organ about eight years later.
Working with the choral society, she said, “has been memorable,” especially because of the opportunity to work with her husband and “strengthen the musical bond between us.”
“Mr. Snyder has been unparalleled in his ability to teach and interpret the literature that the RVCS has performed. His enthusiasm and dedication to the excellence of presenting the highest quality of music that one is capable of producing, has touched the hearts and lives of his singers and audiences, and will remain as an unforgettable legacy in the Roanoke Valley,” Kathy Petty, president of the choral society, said in a news release.
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