published Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Spreading the Gospel through Christian chorale

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Jeffrey Roueché has had a couple of epiphanies regarding music.

The first occurred about 30 years ago while he was a struggling instrumentalist who could not read music. He overheard the band director describe a rhythm to another student with the aid of a chalkboard, and suddenly he understood music as a concept.

The second life-changing aha moment came in 1999 when he got the idea to start his own interdenominational Christian chorale. The Roueché Chorale was born a few months later. They have performed at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New York City. This summer, they will perform at Carnegie Hall.

On Dec. 12, they will perform their annual Candlelight Service of Lessons & Carols in Collegedale.

Today, the chorale has 225 performers on its roster and usually performs with 50 of them. They also do a Holy Week program during Easter.

"It's called the 'Colors of Grace,' and it is a weepy, sad program," Roueché said. "It goes through the death of Christ and has drama and a narrator."

Q: How did the chorale come into being?

A: I was singing around and met all of these wonderful Christian singers, but the groups we were in didn't always have the best environment, or I felt like things be done differently.

Q: The chorale performs with 50 people, but you have 225 on the roster. Why?

A: We have a huge pool of singers with a blend of voices. Stuff comes up. People move. They die. They have vacation. It is a volunteer group and it takes a lot of time.

Q: How would you describe the group?

A: It is a group of Christian people who want to spread the Gospel through music. They have a passion for it. That is the key and it comes through in the volunteering.

Q: Can you describe the Candlelight Service?

A: We do music from the early church, including Gregorian chants, to sacred music of today. Some is done with an orchestra and some is done with hand bells and some is a cappella.

Q: How is the music selected and who does the arranging?

A: I do. It's a year-round digging process of finding the music and finding our readings. I try to match the music to our scripture readings. It's fun, but it can be slow going and very time consuming.



Fact File

* Name: Jeff Roueche.

* Age: 48.

* Hometown: Chattanooga.

* Education: East Ridge High School (1980), masters in music education from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (1996).

* Family: Single.

* Vocation: Music teacher at New Hope Elementary School, Dalton, Ga.; Director Roueche Chorale.

Favorites

* Movie: "It's a Wonderful Life."

* Book: "Gone With the Wind."

* Performer: Steve Green.

* Song: "Favorite Song of All" by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

* Play or musical: "Oklahoma."

* Hobby: jogging.

If You Go

* What: The Roueche Chorale & Orchestra presents "Chattanooga Candlelight Service of Lessons & Carols."

* When: 6:30 p.m., Dec. 12.

* Where: Collegedale SDA Church, 4829 College Drive East, Collegedale, Tenn.

* Admission: free.

* Phone: 396-2134

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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