The Middleport Community Choirs are "a community of churches that sings from the heart." We are two choirs: the vocal choir (The Middleport Community Choir), and the hand bell choir (The Middleport Bell Tones).
The MCC is a voluntary organization which is made up of approximately 40 active members from Middleport, Medina, Gasport, Lockport, Akron, Lyndonville, and other surrounding communities.
Our performance repertoire consists of a variety of mediums, including sacred, secular, Broadway, and contemporary choral works.
The vocal choir is under the direction of Mr. Ric Jones and is accompanied by Ms. Debby Clark.
The Middleport Community Choir (MCC) was created when members of Middleport area parish choirs performed together for special church services. In early 1999, a special effort was made to form a choir that would perform in concert with the visiting St. Andrew's Brass Ensemble from Lübbecke, Germany. The concert was presented on April 5, 1999. Following the concert, our German guests invited the vocal choir and the community handbell choir (The Middleport Bell Tones) to visit Germany in September 2001. The disastrous events of September 11th postponed the trip as the group was supposed to leave on September 12th. It was rescheduled for September 2002. Seeing the countryside and living with the people was wonderful. Singing and ringing in churches, and castles built before America was founded, was especially inspiring. Since then the MCC has had the pleasure of hosting and performing with our German friends in the summers of 2005, 2012, and 2018. The MCC also returned to Germany in the summers of 2008 and 2015.
Mark Christensen was the conductor of the Middleport Community Choir from its inception in 1999. For many years Debby Clark also conducted an annual cantata that was presented to the community. Ric Jones has been the conductor since April 2003. Debby Clark has been the primary accompanist of the vocal choir since 1999. Wendy Gypson served as accompanist of the vocal choir from 2006-2010. Debby Clark has been the conductor of the Middleport Bell Tones since 2000.
Over our twenty years of performing, the choirs have maintained a visible presence in the communities by performing at local civic and religious functions. Additionally, they have presented numerous cantatas to the community. Venturing into more secular music, the choirs have performed "Musical Memories" concerts at the Historic Lockport Palace Theater with the Lockport Community Band (2003, 2004, 2006, 2009), as well as hosting joint concerts with the Genesee Chorale and the Festival Chorus. Additionally, the MCC has performed prisms concerts in May of 2006 and 2009.
The MCC has premiered numerous pieces written by Music Director Ric Jones and his wife Karen. In 2005 they premiered An August Wind of Promise (Miles Between Us), a joint piece for choir, piano and brass that was performed with the brass ensemble from Lübbecke. In 2008, the MCC commissioned Robert's Song, a piece for choir, piano, and violin. This work was commissioned in memory of Robert Maedl. In 2009, they premiered Sing to the Lord, a piece for choir and piano, commissioned by the First Universalist Church (Middleport, NY) for the Middleport Community Choir's 10th Anniversary. In 2012, they premiered Behold!, a piece for choir, piano, hand bells and brass. This was written for the Lübbecke Brass Ensemble and commissioned by the Middleport Community Choir and the Middleport Belltones to honor their visit in August 2012. In 2019, Dr. Herbert Koenig commissioned a work entitled Set This Day Down, written for choir and piano, to honor the Middleport Community Choir's 20th anniversary.
In 2009, the MCC recorded its first ever CD entitled "Celebrate: A Community of Voices Ten Years Strong." This was recorded and engineered at Mark Records in Clarence, NY. For many, this was a once in a lifetime experience. Included on the CD were many of the choir's favorite songs, including Love Grows Here, Lord of the Dance, Robert's Song, A Prayer for Our Time, and others.
In both 2010 and 2014, the Middleport Community Choir had the pleasure of organizing and hosting choral invitationals. These were day-long programs hosted at the Royalton-Hartland High School that featured a professional guest conductor and multiple choirs from around Western New York.
In 2010, R. Douglas Helvering of Westminster Choir College in New Jersey was the guest conductor. The invitational included performances by the Middleport Community Choir, the Irondequoit Chorale, and the Genesee Chorale. Additionally, singers from all over Western New York participated. The day culminated in an evening concert and a mass performance with all participants performing.
In 2014, Bradley Vogel of Tabor College in Kansas was the guest conductor. The invitational included performances by the Middleport Community Choir, the Kendall Community Choir, The Festival Choir, and the Genesee Chorale. Additional singers from all over Western New York also participated. The day culminated in an evening concert and a mass performance with all participants performing.
From its inception, the Middleport Community Choir has tried to live up to it purposes:
1. To provide an opportunity for musicians to use their talents for personal expression and satisfaction and to glorify God;
2. To bring musical enjoyment into the lives of others; and
3. To foster the ecumenical spirit in the Middleport area.
Choir membership is open to anyone interested in singing and joining in the fellowship shared by members.
Ric Jones is the founder and partner of Imagine Music Publishing LLC, a publishing company that sells original instrumental and vocal music, arrangements, commissioned works, as well as educational and curricular materials.
Ric received both his Bachelor and Master Degrees in Music Education from Ithaca College (NY).
Currently, Ric serves as the Music Director of the Middleport Community Choir (Middleport, NY), Music Director of the Genesee Chorale (Batavia, NY), and Music Director of the Brighton Symphony Orchestra (Brighton, NY). He is also the organist and Music Director at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Medina (NY), and organist at Trinity Lutheran Church in Wolcottsville (NY).
His educational experience includes directing high school bands, marching bands, pep bands, and chamber ensembles at Corinth High School (NY), Cincinnatus High School (NY); as well, Jones assisted and composed for a variety of marching bands.
In addition to his musical endeavors, Ric enjoys being a freelance web designer. He is the founder and owner of One Stop Medina (www.OneStopMedina.com), an online calendar and directory for Medina, NY. He is an active member of the Orleans Renaissance Group, Inc., a volunteer organization dedicated to revitalizing the arts, culture and architecture in Medina (NY). Ric also serves on the staff of the Oak Orchard Review, an online literary and art magazine that features writers and artists from the Western New York region.
Ric resides in Medina (NY) with his wife Karen, and their three children, Nicholas, Ryder, and River.
The Middleport Belltones is directed by Debby Clark. Debby has been a church organist since the age of fourteen. She has been an organist for over 35 years. During that tenure, she has accompanied and directed numerous cantatas. Singers from area churches were invited to perform in these cantatas. With the creation of the Middleport Community Choir and for the love of music, she became the volunteer accompanist.
Under Debby's direction, the MCCs acquired a used set of three-octaves of Malmark hand bells and two-octaves of Choir Chimes. The Middleport Belltones have travelled to Germany in 2002, 2008, and 2015.
Debby currently enjoys being a substitute church organist for several churches. In addition, she has been an office facilitator for a financial advising firm for over 17 years. Debby has two adult children.