'It's about getting people to sing together'

"Forget your troubles, come on, get happy. You can chase all your cares away" ... when Viva Voce presents its eighth annual songfest Friday, May 21, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford.

Folks of all ages can join voices with Viva Voce and sing pop, folk and rock songs from the '50s and '60s. Just request a tune from a list of about 100 and the group will play it — then let the fun begin.

"The songs span from folk artists such as Peter, Paul and Mary, the Kingston Trio and the Everly Brothers to Crosby, Stills and Nash, Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles," says Tish McFadden, one of the founders of Viva Voce.

"We try to choose artists that offer potential for a lot of vocal harmony," McFadden says.

Viva Voce's informal and unrehearsed singalong will be open to children, parents and grandparents — and admission is free.

"It's all about getting people to sing together," McFadden says. "It turns out people love to sing, but they just don't have the opportunity to do it. We've discovered that people hold the lyrics to certain songs in their memories, and that they're able to sing them without having the lyrics written out for them."

The singalongs are especially fun because they're for the little ones on up to grandmas and grandpas, McFadden says.

"What I see happen at these shows ... when I hear the voices of children, parents and grandparents singing a song together, is a profound unity," McFadden says. "We're all joined in one voice. We can forget our cares and worries and enjoy that moment. It's pure fun."

McFadden is one of the eight professional musicians who form Viva Voce. She runs Rum Tum School of Music in Ashland and teaches private music lessons to about 80 students every week.

"From age 5 to 65," McFadden says. "That's the range."

She also teaches music at Willow Wind Community Learning Center in Ashland.

Along with McFadden (guitar, flute and vocals), Viva Voce includes Don Harriss (pianist and composer), Steve Fain (acoustic stand-up bass), Lynn Fain (alto), Brian Freeman (guitar, mandolin, banjo), Mike Vediner (guitar) and Rick and Joanne Soued.

"Rick can sing in any vocal range and Joanne sings soprano," McFadden says. "Steve and Don also do some private teaching."

Before it began hosting its singalongs at the Craterian Theater, Viva Voce staged its shows at the Old Siskiyou Barn in Ashland. The Craterian offers a larger venue, and the Viva Voce's annual shows there have filled to the house to near capacity.

"After our shows, we get e-mails from people we've never met telling us what a great time they had," McFadden says. "And what great memories they recalled from hearing the songs again."

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain is at 7 p.m.

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