New chorus group, open to youth and adults, also announced at season preview party

The Smyrna Opera House presented an honorary membership to longtime volunteer June Sayers on Thursday at the season preview party.

Sayers was one of the leaders in organizing fundraisers to renovate the Opera House before its grand reopening in 2003, and she has continued her service ever since.

“We honor someone special to the Smyrna Opera House and a special lady, June Sayers,” said Donna Cantillon, president of the Smyrna-Clayton Heritage Association which runs the Opera House. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving. I’m really passionate about this project, and June is just as passionate. We love June so much. She’s done so much for us.”

Sayers helped start the Delawareana auctions that were one of the main fundraisers for the Opera House and then helped lead the events for about 12 years, lining up noteworthy items to auction off, sometimes twice a year.

“The Delaware auctions were legendary among auction circles,” said Cantillon. “That was a lot of hours and lot of work.”

Cantillon also credited Sayers with arranging sell-out performances for the Opera House by Bob Ralston, the former organist for “The Lawrence Welk Show,” and with arranging many raffles to benefit the Opera House including donating baskets for artists to paint which would then be raffled.

“Thank you for your effort, your support and your passion,” said Cantillon.

In accepting the award, Sayers said all the fundraisers and projects involved many members of the Opera House and Smyrna-Clayton Heritage Association.

“It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” said Sayers. “It was a team effort. A lot of people donated items and their time.”

She also recognized her family at Sayers Jewelers & Gemologists for their help with Opera House fundraisers through the years and with designing and making the donor board in the lobby in the shape of the Opera House building.

New chorus for youth and adults

One of the new Opera House programs announced at the season preview party was “The Smyrna Singers,” a choral group for adults and youth ages 12 and up.

Led by director Andrea (Stewart) Davis, the group will rehearse Thursdays from 7-8:30 p.m., starting Sept. 14, in the Opera House auditorium.

Davis, a 2004 graduate of Smyrna High School, earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at the University of Delaware. After six years teaching music at Milford Middle School, she’s now the choir teacher at Easton High School in Maryland.

“The idea for this group is to bring all ages together in a multi-generational choir, to sing and have fun,” said Davis. “If you have prior experience, great, but we’ll be happy to have anyone who’d like to sing.”

The accompanist will be Kathy Castro, former principal at Sunnyside Elementary, who has helped with many Opera House shows.

The group is scheduled to perform its first concert Saturday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.