Resident finds his voice through Hinsdale Chorale

JR Tomkinson was a new Hinsdale homeowner in 2020 when he noticed a window poster for the Hinsdale Chorale while visiting neighboring Western Springs.

"I had sung with choirs before, but it had been four or five years since I had," Tomkinson said.

Joining the group during the pandemic made for a different musical experience than he'd ever had. The return to normalcy has been welcomed by the chorale, which will mark the holiday season with its concert Welcome Yule! Nov. 25 and 26 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in La Grange (see Page 28 for details).

Tomkinson said the program, which also features Chicago Sinfonietta Orchestra principal harpist Faye Seeman, will deliver a full helping of holiday sounds.

"The first half of the program is Benjamin Britten's 'A Ceremony of Carols,' and 'Welcome Yule' is the big opening movement of that work," Tomkinson, a tenor, said. "It's just beautiful music."

The second half showcases both traditional and more contemporary pieces in four different languages. He said singing for audiences this time of year is especially rewarding.

"It's a very festive and fun experience to make music with other people," he said.

His choral pursuits began post-high school.

"In college I performed in a band regularly, and a friend of mine encouraged me to try out for the chorale," he said. "I loved it."

During his time living in Chicago, Tomkinson was a member of the St. Clement Church Choir. He was happy to find a talented group in Hinsdale through which to revive his passion.

"It's an incredibly talented and committed group and a community of really good people, and I look forward to rehearsal every week," he said, reserving special praise for artistic director Mary Hopper and accompanist Kathy Christian. "They're just amazing professionals and they set a very high bar of excellence for the singers to follow."

He also appreciates his walkable commute to rehearsals at Redeemer Lutheran Church and marvels at the distances some travel.

"They come from remote suburbs to be part of this every week," he said. "There's a standard of excellence that attracts people who enjoy singing and singing together."

Caroling as part of Hinsdale's Christmas Walk is another delight of the season.

"We get great audiences, very receptive," Tomkinson said. "If I were not singing in this choir, I would be sitting in the audience. There are times during rehearsal when I'm not singing and I

just sit and listen."

He, his wife Jeannie and their two sons, a freshman a Hinsdale Central and a seventh-grader at Hinsdale Middle School, are enamored with the village they call home.

"We love the sense of community here. The schools are tremendous, and we love the parks and green space and being able to walk and enjoy everything Hinsdale has to offer," he said.

As a family they like to travel and go camping - and do whatever the kids are into.

"What they enjoy becomes what you enjoy," he quipped.

He hopes people enjoy 'Welcome Yule!'

"It's not a performance that I would miss after hearing it."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean