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Saturday , July , 11 2020

GVMVC Celebrates Founding Member Harold T. George

One Grass Valley singer has become an emblem of the Cornish Carol Choir's perseverance. Harold Thomas George could trace his lineage back to the very origins of the Grass Valley Carol Choir, and the early stirrings in the California gold mines. He was a crucial link between the 100 year old miners' choir that had died out and the revival of Cornish choir singing in the 1990s. He attended the fateful meeting in 1967 when the old carolers decided to cease their public performances, and he attended the first practice of the new Cornish Carol Choir called by Eleanor Kenitzer in October 1990. For a number of years he sang with that group and with the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir.

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History of the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir
The Cornish Male Voice Choir singing in downtown
Grass Valley in 1916
The Grass Valley Male Voice Choir is the direct descendant of the Cornish miners’ choirs that flourished from the Gold Rush era well into the twentieth century.

Grass Valley in Nevada County, California, was the center of hard rock gold mining. Cornish miners came to Grass Valley, where their mining skills were needed to extract gold from the earth. They stayed and put down permanent roots in the community. 

Their love of singing led to an all male voice choir that sang in Grass Valley for over 90 years. The choir was heard at Christmastime in national radio broadcasts in the 1940s and 1950s, one of which was recorded deep in one of the mines.

In the 1990s, Eleanor Kenitzer, an experienced choral conductor in the community, worked with a few of the remaining choir members to revive the Cornish singing tradition. In 1990, the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir, with men and women singers, began singing and continues to this day.

When the Cornish Carol Choir visited Cornwall in 1997, they heard the wonderful sounds of the Cornish male voice choirs, and Eleanor was encouraged to establish the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir as a result.

The Male Voice Choir has been an active and beloved part of the Nevada County musical scene from that time. We have remained close to our Cornish roots, and the choir has toured Cornwall in 2000 and 2002. We have also participated in annual Cornish reunions in America, and hosted a visiting Cornish choirs in Grass Valley in the early 2000's.

We now have singers from all walks of life, and have a broad repertoire that encompasses Broadway, folk music, and a wide variety of Christmas music. While there are great choral groups in our community, we feel that the rich, deep sound of a male voice choir is unique and thrilling.

In addition to our regular concerts, we appear before numerous groups – at ceremonial occasions, holiday parties, and senior residences. Our hallmark is our support of local nonprofits, and we always share our concert proceeds with such groups.

We are known outside the local area: singing in Reno, Nevada; Murphys, California; and at the SacSings Choral Festival in Sacramento.

This history can only tell you a little about the choir. Come see us, and hear our male voice sound for yourself!

View the galleries of pictures from our past trips, concerts and events