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  • Writer's pictureGayle Albertini

Harmony in the Harbour

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Terry Knickerbocker, Fairfield Harbour Chorus Director

Singing in a chorus builds positive relationships and closeness. Studies show it bonds people faster than most activities. This sense of connection isn't just emotional, but physiological too: the hearts of people who sing together beat in unison. Singing releases endorphins which reduce stress and anxiety levels and contribute to a positive mental state.

You don't have to convince Terry Knickerbocker, director of the Fairfield Harbour Chorus, of this phenomenon. He lives and breathes music every day. The harmony that abounds in the Chorus is evident in the faithful members that have maintained the chorus since 1984. It is the oldest chorus in the tri-county area.

The story goes that Pat Rivett was at the Anchor Pool in 1984 when the idea came up to sing for the Christmas Tree Lighting that year. The group sang at the Christmas tree lighting in 1984 and never stopped. Rivett, the beloved music director, led the chorus until she was 95 years old. She left a legacy in the music community of Craven County as director and piano accompanist.

In 2009, Knickerbocker, a retired high school math teacher and track/cross country coach from upstate New York, joined the Chorus and in 2013 took over the reins as musical director. “I don’t know why Pat hand-picked me, but she did, and it has been the most rewarding experience of my life.” But Chorus members know why he was selected - Knickerbocker's devotion to the craft is unsurpassed. Knickerbocker sang in public venues all his life and today shares his talents throughout the region. He sings in and is VP of the Craven Community Chorus.

With decades of use, the Chorus/Harbour Lights staging was aging and in need of replacement. Knickerbocker, along with his wife Alexandra Kemendy, decided to underwrite the entire cost of new risers which would double as a stage for the Harbour Lights. Through donations from the members of the Chorus and the Harbour Lights as well as members of the Community at large, much of the cost has been reimbursed. He and a crew of Chorus members also built a shed to store the equipment. It is the POA-owned shed behind the Community Center.

Although he made his mark in the Chorus, Knickerbocker is quick to tell you, “The Chorus is not about me, it’s about the talented, dedicated members who come together for two hours each week in harmony with the sole purpose of presenting a beautiful Gift of Music to the entire community. My charge is to continue Pat Rivett’s legacy”.

You’ll find these voices of harmony rehearsing most Monday nights at the community center. At practice, Knickerbocker concentrates on teaching four-part harmonies. He uses open and closed score music. The bass will sing their part separately, then he focuses on the tenors. These parts are different from the melody. Next, he brings in the altos and then the sopranos. When the four-part harmony comes together, their hearts beat in unison.

Please mark your calendars for the following Chorus Performances:

· December 9, 2022 – Community Center, 7 pm

· December 11, 2022 – St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 3 pm. 1605 Neuse Blvd, New Bern

· December 12, 2022 – Community Center, 7 pm

The Fairfield Harbour Chorus exists strictly on dues, which help pay for the accompanist, and donations garnered at their Concerts, which pay for any new music needed. Please consider attending and enjoying their FREE Concerts. The Gift of Music we all enjoy so much.

Membership: No auditions, come and join the voices! Dues $25/annually Contact Terry Knickerbocker. Home: 252-649-1494, Cell: 252-876-5251 or Email:

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