This is When I Start Liking Williamsburg!

There are people who really get into the groove of Williamsburg, and quite easily it seems. I’m not one of them. 

I do realize that the “groove” of Williamsburg for each person is colored by which particular artificer, architecture or argument one experiences on those colonial streets. For me, the enjoyment of Williamsburg came not from the engagingly presented history, the colorful recreations of colonial life or the amazing handicrafts. I’d rather sit in Starbuck (yes, even Starbucks) and sip iced coffee the entire day with a group of fun people than walk through 1775 by myself. 

For me, the highlight of the cabinetmaker’s shop was not the fellow using a regular handsaw to slice an 1/8 by inch slice off at the flat side of a 5 inch wide board for use as a veneer, (although that was really amazing). The highlight was hearing Cam play the handcrafted harpsichord in the anteroom.

Other highlights were along a similar grain. The King’s Arms Tavern had some good food, but listening to the Bach discussion with the young mandolin player in the next room was even better. The guy playing a hurdy gurdy was fun but it was even much more funner to see Gina trying to learn the baroque guitar to accompany him on the fly. If you have some time, google the instrument called a serpent, there was this guy who was vibrant on his antique serpent. 

So if you get a chance, visit the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg. It’s an architectural standout, designed by a common American, and has an interesting history. But if you really want an experience, sing in that church with a bunch of fun people called Oasis Chorale. Trust me, it’s worth repeating.

John Strickler

Saturday & Sunday in South Carolina

On Saturday we traveled to Wagener, SC. When we arrived a the New Holland Mennonite Church in Wagener their children’s choir was already there to rehearse with us and we jumped right in unloading the risers then headed straight into rehearsal. The children had been very well prepared for their part of the song and they interacted with the choir comfortably and joyfully. To hear their young voices blending with the more mature voices of the choir was a beautiful experience!

We then went to Wendi Martin’s home where her family had prepared a meal for us. It was an evening full of good food, games, and fulfilling conversation. The Martin family welcomed us so graciously, making it easy to find some much needed relaxation.

Sunday morning we attended the New Holland Mennonite Church where we sang three hymns between Sunday School and Church. Later in the day we had a concert there and were blessed with a full church. The children’s choir joined us for Give To Our God Immortal Praise. These are unique moments that we treasure as a choir.

We continue our journey’s through South Carolina going to Abbeville for a concert on Monday evening.

Erin Martin

Island Creek Mennonite Church Concert

Tour! After a profitable morning practice and a lunch of delicious homemade pizza, we loaded the bus and embarked on our 2016 tour. 

We arrived in Hillsville, Virginia, set up the risers, and had a delightful practice with the children’s choir from Island Creek Mennonite Church, whose director Debbie Miller is one of our own altos. Together we sang Lyle Stutzman’s lovely arrangement of “Give to Our God, Immortal Praise”, and both groups thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. 

The concert was accented by a tumultuous thunderstorm, but that did not dampen the choir or the audience. We visited with friends old and new after the concert, then departed with our hosts for the evening. This morning finds us on the road again headed for Batesburg, South Carolina.

Why Hymns?

Today we spent the day recording the next Hymns of the Church album. Two years ago we recorded the first volume. Today we began the recording for Volume 2. We plan to continue recording tomorrow and Friday morning.

You might wonder why we choose to do a recording of hymns. There are several reasons, but perhaps the largest reason is that there really isn’t as big a gap between hymns and the choral music we sing as some might think. We love singing hymns and try to sing in such a way that anyone else who loves to sing hymns can sing along with the recording. We sing out of the Hymns of the Church song book. This book contains both old familiar hymns and hymns that are not as well known. So we follow suit. In this way hopefully some of the less familiar hymns will become better known and more frequently sung in church services.

Recording can be a strenuous process, but working with the same recording engineer we have worked with in prior recordings made the day easier.

There are several spouses of singers traveling with the choir and a couple of cute little baby boys too. This adds much pleasure to the time spent together at breaks and in the evening. Judging by their sweet little crowing we may well be looking at future OC members!

Thank you for following us as we continue our summer tour!

Reconnection and Rehearsal

There is a sense of camaraderie and reconnecting as we assemble on the first morning of our summer tour. Greeting old friends is a great way to start our 2 week time together. It doesn’t take long to settle down and get to work though! 

It was a long day of rehearsing the songs we will be singing in our concerts later this week and next week. Since we plan to record Hymns of the Church #2 tomorrow, we needed to pack a lot of rehearsing into today!

We are rehearsing in the lovely Parkview Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, VA. It is beautiful with large windows and skylights letting in plentiful sunlight. As always gracious people have been preparing our meals for us, making our day of focusing on music much less stressful.

It was a good first day and tomorrow promises to follow suit. For now it is time to rest.

Why Jesus? 2016

At 6:45 Saturday morning we found ourselves releasing “light sighs on ‘ooo'” on the risers of the convention center stage, glimpsing thousands of soon-to-be filled seats spread before us. Our anticipation promoted focused preparation for what we have affectionately named the “Maine” event. Warm ups and hydration complete, we convened backstage for our final line up and the Why Jesus 2016 opening comments. Our first set received a warm welcome.

The two morning apologetics addresses were followed by Oasis’s breakout session, attended by a few conference go-ers, in which Wendell Nisly sculpted a creative and revealing vision of the chorale’s history, current context, and future plans. (We are blessed with our director’s vision of the arts and the Biblical framework from which he leads us.)

Chorale members report greatly enjoying the physically relaxing yet mentally stimulating day. Highlights include David Randy Newman’s engaging address and his idea of answering questions with questions, hearing Dr. Ravi Zacharias live for the first time, attending a panel discussion of leading apologists, and, of course, singing!

Preceding Ravi Zacharias’s evening address, we premiered “Psalm 67,” a choral work specially commissioned for Why Jesus 2016 and composed by Wendell Glick. (A note: we will be performing this piece on our 2016 summer tour to Virginia and the Carolinas!)

The apologetics conference culminated quite appropriately with Wendell Nisly leading the conference congregation in the Doxology hymn.

We are humbled and blessed at the kind reception we received. Audience members commented on the “unexpected style,” thanked us for sharing our “gift,” and called the musicality “pure and worshipful.” On these notes, we ended the day with warm hearts. For surely, it is not unto us, but unto the Lord’s name be glory and honor.

Thank You, Thank You!

Last night we held the fundraising event that we have been talking about. Thank you to each of you who who attended and helped to make this event successful!

The choir practiced hard and sang beautifully! I especially loved when they asked anyone who had been a part of the choir in the past to join them for the last song, God Be With You. It was a beautiful moment as moms carrying babies and people who have been very influential in the choir joined the 2016 choir to sing!

There were fun times, like when anyone who wanted to could go to the front and lead the choir. And there were uplifting moments like when the audience joined in singing Lift Your Glad Voices. There were special moments, like when the choir sang a song of thanks and made sure the servers were there to hear it.

Thank you, thank you to those who came and supported us! A special thank you to Curtis and Emily Martin and Durrell and Janell Nolt for all they did in helping to plan and to prepare for the event!

The echoes of this evening will live on in our hearts!

Practice, Lunch, Load & Leave

This morning Oasis arrived at New Haven Mennonite Church in Lititz once again to practice and prepare for our trip to Maine. Bass John Strickler led us in a strange airplane-like stretch which we all accomplished while standing on one leg. No injuries were sustained by any chorale members.

Ater running through the rest of our repertoire for the summer tour, we enjoyed a delicious lunch provided by the Nolt family and former OC alto Phoebe Beiler. Then we headed back to the sanctuary to put a few final touches on Wendell Glick’s “Psalm 67” which will be premiered at the “Why Jesus?” conference this weekend.

In a flurry of activity after the bus arrived, risers were taken down and rolled out, uniforms and luggage were loaded, carpets were vacuumed, and good-byes were said. We were soon stuck in a traffic jam and redeemed the time by running through the congregational hymns we will be singing at the conference.

We are currently on the bus (sleeping, conversing, or practicing) on our way to Massachusetts where we will spend the night with our hosts from Pioneer Valley Mennonite Fellowship in Russell. We look forward to arriving in Maine tomorrow.

Deana Swanson

Fundraising Dinner and Music Event

Please join us for a memorable evening to benefit the


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

At six-thirty in the evening for Dinner and Music

Midway Reception Center
210 E Lexington Rd, Lititz, PA 17543

Please RSVP by April 30, 2016

We will be auctioning off the opportunity to lead, or choose someone to lead, the chorale in a song, so come ready to bid!

Checks may be made payable to:
Oasis Chorale
1143 Gap Rd.
Kinzers, PA 17535

$38 Adults • $30 Children 4-11

If you cannot attend but wish to contribute please mail a check in any amount to the above address.

For additional information contact Erin Martin
Tel. (570) 345.3437 or [email protected]

We look forward to spending a pleasant evening with you; enjoying excellent food, friendly visiting, and enriching choral music. 

You will hear from our director, Wendell Nisly, and other chorale members. 

The chorale will also sing several pieces which they are preparing to present at the Why Jesus? 2016 Conference in Bangor, Maine on May 7, 2016.

You are welcome to bring your family and your friends! 

We are a volunteer choir. Your contribution will help us with travel costs, reserving recording venues, commissioning new compositions, recording production, and many more projects as opportunities arise and funding permits.

Thank-you for helping to advance the mission of Oasis Chorale. 

Dinner Menu:

Punch bowl
Hors d’oeuvres

Buttered Rolls
Tossed Salad
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Red Skin Parsley Potatoes
Green Beans

San Jorge Costa Rican Coffee

Assorted Cheesecakes