Celebrate the season with UCOP Singers’ 40th anniversary concert
If you’ve been on the fifth floor of Franklin any Wednesday afternoon since October, you might have thought the holidays had come a little early, with carols wafting out of Room 5318.
That joyous sound was the UCOP Singers rehearsing for their 40th annual holiday concert, on Friday, Dec. 11 in the Franklin Lobby. There will be three performances, at noon, 1 and 2 p.m. Come enjoy light desserts and cider and as you listen to such seasonal favorites as Jingle Bells, Oh Chanukah and Dona Nobis Pacem.
A UCOP treasure
The oldest UCOP affinity group, the UCOP Singers has a storied history. It was founded by Betty Kerley and long-time director Willie Archie in 1975, when UCOP was in Berkeley. The group would often practice in a stairwell at the UC printing plant in Berkeley, where they found the best acoustics, “and no matter how bad you sounded, it made you sound good,” Archie told Link a couple of years ago.
The Singers have performed mostly at the UCOP holiday parties and department functions, starting rehearsals in October each year. For a while they rehearsed year-round and expanded their performances to include retirement parties, staff appreciation picnics and the opening of the Franklin building. UC President Atkinson invited the group to sing at the Kaiser Rooftop Garden for a 9/11 memorial, and several senior leaders have sung with them, including Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom and presidents Mark Yudof and Janet Napolitano.
It’s a close-knit group, says Daniel Scuiry, an administrative analyst in the Retirement Administration Service Center, who has led the group since Archie retired in 2013. “But it’s also open and inclusive.”
Charlotte Strem, assistant director of physical and environmental planning, joined “at least 15 years ago” after hearing the group sing at a holiday party. “I thought it looked like fun. It’s a good way to get to know other people in OP who you otherwise wouldn’t know,” she says, “and it’s a joy to sing together, a joy to sing together in harmony.”
Many singers have come and gone over the years, but some stay for years. Sue Taylor and Sandra Douglas, both retirees, usually return each holiday season to sing with the group.
They do it for more than camaraderie though. “It’s more about supporting the UCOP community than about us,” Scuiry says.