LEWISTON – Donald Shrimpton, widely known as a musical director, choir leader and teacher in the Lewiston area, will take his talents on the road as the piano accompanist for a national 200-voice American Tapestry Choir that will travel on a weeklong bus tour to Gettysburg, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
The choir will conclude its tour with a performance on Saturday in Constitution Hall with members of Disney Epcot’s Liberty Voices choir.
“It’s a great honor. I am delighted and excited,” Shrimpton said. “There’s some people coming from quite a distance to join us.”
The national choir will perform “An American Salute: Our Heritage of Faith and Freedom.” The tour sponsored by Harmony International noted that members of the tour were promised lots of stops at historical sites and “moonlight tours” of Washington, D.C., monuments.
Shrimpton said in an interview last week that some of the stops, including tours of Gettysburg and Fort McHenry, as well as sightseeing at well-known sites in Washington, may be curtailed if the government shutdown continued.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with everything going on in Washington. It’s kind of up in the air right now,” Shrimpton said. He said the trip will not be canceled, and they have a list of other things to do and possible singing opportunities.
Shrimpton, who recently turned 76, retired as a music teacher from Lewiston Porter schools in 2000, but said he sat home for about two months and “went stir crazy.”
“I’m the kind of person that just has to be doing something,” Shrimpton said, noting his work with John Kander of the musical team of Kander and Ebb. ”It’s been quite a trip for me, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
He said, “I still have my hand in everything.”
Highlights of his musical career include a lengthy professional musical theater background in shows with widely known stars. He was the first musical director for Niagara University, working closely with the late Brother Augustine Towey in the late 1960s.
In 2003 he returned to the Niagara University Theatre program and also founded the Niagara University show choir/theatre chorale, and in April 2010 was the musical director for “Anything Goes” at the opening of Niagara University’s new theater. He was also the musical director for the Niagara Fine Arts Program, former director of the Retired Men’s Service Club Chorus, and conductor and founder of the Rainbow City Philharmonic. He formed the Lewiston Choraleers in 2007 and recently began as the musical accompanist for voice classes at Niagara County Community College.
The Lewiston Choraleers is a community choir and presents Easter and Christmas programs, as well as performances for the Lewiston Arts, Peach and Harvest festivals. Some members of group traveled with Harmony International to Ireland to perform under the direction of Joseph Martin, and in 2011 Shrimpton directed the group as it sang for Disney Magic Days in Disney World in Florida. He said the group hopes to go back again in May.
Shrimpton said he became involved in the Salute to America Tour after he was asked to perform by Martin, who is a widely known composer and is acting as the artistic director for the tour. Martin is also the director of Liberty Voices and he asked choirs from across the country to join the tour, which includes historical stops and performances.
Local residents don’t have to travel far to see Shrimpton perform. The Lewiston Choraleers will perform Christmas concerts for the community at 2 p.m. Nov. 30 in the First Presbyterian Church of Lewiston, 505 Cayuga St. and at 7 p.m. in St. John De LaSalle Church, 8477 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls; at 2 p.m. Dec. 1 in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 140 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls; at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 400 Ridge St., Lewiston and at 7 p.m. in United Baptist Christian Church, 4800 Creek Road, Lewiston; and at 2 p.m. Dec. 8 in Messiah Lutheran Church, 915 Oneida St., Lewiston.