“I’ve been seriously singing since sixth grade. But after high school, I started working in the corporate world. And I started getting depressed, without having music,” he said. “I quit my job, went to Portland State, and got my music degree to start teaching.”

Now music is Elliott’s full-time career. He directs three choirs in addition to the Confluence Chorus in Salem, including the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis Choir and the Portland Lesbian Choir. If that’s not enough, he also sings with the Portland Gay Men’s Choir.
For some, that might be a lot of running around looking for missing sheet music, but for Elliott, it’s entirely rewarding.

“Behold the Star!”
What: Confluence Chorus Holiday Concert
When: December 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: First Congregational Church, 700 Marion St. NE.
How: Tickets are available at the door; $15 General Admission, $12 for those 65 and up and students with ID.
Info: visit confluencechorus.org The concert also will be held on December 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis.

Salem’s Confluence Chorus, which is in its eighth season,  is one of the GALA Choruses, an affiliation of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Mixed Choirs, with over 150 member choirs from around the world. The Salem choir is active, said Elliott.

The concert also will be held on December 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis.

“We have about 52 people on the roster, and we usually have 40-45 on stage at a concert.”
Auditions are not required to join, and straight members are welcome.

“It doesn’t matter if you have experience,” he said. “If you do that’s great, but mostly you have to enjoy the singing. The only real requirements are that you can match pitch, and have a willingness to have fun.”

Music is often memorized for concerts, but not always, Elliott said.

“It depends on the concert, and how difficult the music is. My job is to have the choir sound good. So if having them hold music will help, then we’ll have music. If it’s a distraction, we’ll memorize.”

The group is improving musically every season.

“With each concert, we’re growing leaps and bounds — it’s just amazing,” said Elliott. “The choir wants to sound good, and they want to work hard.”
Rehearsals are held most Sundays at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 5090 Center Street NE, from 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The choir is currently working on the music for their annual holiday concert on December 8, this year titled “Behold the Star!”

“We’re not of any religious group, so we try to honor many traditions,” Elliott said.

Of the music for the concert, which Elliott is keeping secret, all he will say is “It’s scrumptious. There’s lots of classic, more traditional music, yet it’s very interesting. I don’t know my favorite piece yet. It’s going to be a really hot concert.”

Next up for the choir in 2008 is the GALA Convention, held every four years at different locations internationally.  

“This summer it’s in Miami, and we’re planning to attend the festival, for those who are interested,” he said.  

Sara Wiseman teaches writing classes in Salem.  Visit sarawiseman.com for details.