Choral director returns to Jefferson County roots

Lynn Nowak – Contributor
Posted 9/6/16

Coming home again has been a pleasure for Tina (Moore) Grewell.

After 35 years, the Chimacum High School graduate returned to Jefferson County last year, and this fall, she gets back to her …

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Choral director returns to Jefferson County roots

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Coming home again has been a pleasure for Tina (Moore) Grewell.

After 35 years, the Chimacum High School graduate returned to Jefferson County last year, and this fall, she gets back to her musical roots as the newest director of the Community Chorus of Port Townsend and East Jefferson County.

Following the exit of former director Rebecca Rottsolk, the chorus board had the task of finding someone to take up the baton for the fall season. Leslie Lewis continues to conduct the spring program.

Grewell, who has 30 years of experience directing school choirs in the Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah school districts, landed the position of elementary music teacher at Chimacum Creek Primary School last year.

Grewell came to the attention of board members during their director search. The chorus board has keenly supported the resurgence of a choral music curriculum in the Chimacum School District, according to board president Linda Atkins.

When Grewell, then Tina Moore (daughter of Dick and Patti Shuff), was a student herself, she sang with the community chorus for the 1978-79 season. She counts Gerry Hyatt Bergstrom, community chorus cofounder and former director, and Mary Lou Montgomery, another former chorus director, as early mentors.

Bergstrom was her first voice teacher. “She made me laugh at my mistakes and taught me that singing took practice but that it’s OK to learn from your mistakes.”

While Grewell was attending Chimacum schools, Montgomery was her music teacher. “Mary Lou really taught me how to love singing. She was a musical inspiration for so many children at Chimacum schools.”

Another music mentor was Mary Lou’s husband, Duane Montgomery, who was an institution at Chimacum through his leadership of the band program. Grewell credits him as the one who encouraged her to study music in college and pursue it as a career.

A graduate of Cornish College of the Arts with teaching credentials from the University of Washington, Grewell has earned credits from Seattle Pacific University and holds the equivalent of a master’s degree in choral conducting from the Bonner Institute. She also served as assistant director of a community choir based in Kent.

“What I love most about teaching young children is that they will try anything they are asked to sing and perform, because they have not developed inhibitions that keep them from being confident in themselves,” Grewell noted. “It is my hope that chorus members will come to rehearsal with confidence, knowing that we will all be learning and singing together and that we can make great music no matter where we are on the spectrum regarding our past experiences.”

For the holiday concerts, this year scheduled for Dec. 2 and 4, Grewell has selected a varied program – from classical to contemporary to Broadway selections – which she hopes will have something for everybody.

She said she sees herself as a facilitator. “I have no expectations as the new director except to help every singer to feel welcome and to enjoy making music and entertaining our community.

She said she envisions each piece of music as a blank canvas, and she uses her conducting techniques to give the music color, depth and expression. Her emphasis in rehearsal is to practice as though the choir is singing for an audience – right from the start. “We make mistakes and fix them later … therefore we become better and better at creating beautiful moments that speak to us as singers.”

“We’re thrilled to have someone of Tina’s caliber interested in directing the Community Chorus,” said Atkins. “I know we’re all going to learn a lot from each other.”

The first rehearsal is set for Sunday, Sept. 11 at a new location, Trinity Methodist Church, 609 Taylor St., Port Townsend. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. Singing is 6:30-8:30 p.m. All singers ages 16 and older are encouraged to join; no auditions are required. Cost is $35 for the season. For more information visit

ptchorus.org or the chorus's Facebook page, facebook.com/ptchorus, or call 385-1402.

(Writer, copy editor and vocalist Lynn Nowak is on the board of the Community Chorus of Port Townsend and East Jefferson County.)

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