Aidan Rickel leads the Novi Choralaires in a rehearsal on Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the choir room at Novi Middle School. After an 18-month hiatus, the choir is preparing for a Christmas concert.

Aidan Rickel leads the Novi Choralaires in a rehearsal on Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the choir room at Novi Middle School. After an 18-month hiatus, the choir is preparing for a Christmas concert.

Photo by Brian Wells


After 18-month hiatus, Choralaires return under new director

By: Brian Wells | Novi Note | Published November 26, 2021

 Aidan Rickel, center, leads the Novi Choralaires in a rehearsal Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the choir room at Novi Middle School. After an 18-month hiatus, the choir is preparing for a Christmas concert.

Aidan Rickel, center, leads the Novi Choralaires in a rehearsal Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the choir room at Novi Middle School. After an 18-month hiatus, the choir is preparing for a Christmas concert.

Photo by Brian Wells

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NOVI — For Becky Staab, singing is her form of self-care. She’s been singing with the Novi Choralaires since 1981.

“I love singing,” she said. “This is what I love to do.”

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the choir took an 18-month hiatus. In September, the choir began holding rehearsals for two Christmas concerts.

“(We’re) so glad to be back,” Staab said.

Holding rehearsals didn’t come without its own set of concerns. In addition to social distancing and performing with masks, there was worry over how many members would return.

“That was my biggest worry, was how many people are they going to get back? How many people will feel comfortable performing?” said Aidan Rickel, the choir’s director. “But at the end of the day, there’s such a burning desire in the heart of my choir members and of me to be performing and singing again that any obstacle was not enough to dissuade us.”

The choir has 27 members, some of whom are new. Part of the reason for this, Rickel thinks, is that people were looking for something to be a part of outside their homes.

This is also Rickel’s first year as the choir’s director.

“We are so glad to have Aiden with us,” Staab said.

Rickel, a graduate of Novi High School, earned a Bachelor of Arts in music from Wayne State University and is currently enrolled in the university’s Master of Music in Composition program.

“It feels very surreal to be walking around the same hallways that I used to walk around as a kid, but now with authority, now with a new purpose,” Rickel said. “I feel like I’m part of this community. … I feel like I’m already on the same team.”

The choir is preparing for a winter concert, which Rickel has titled “Hope Triumphant.”

“I believe that we have triumphed through this pandemic,” Rickel said. “It’s been a long haul, but we’ve been humbled by it, but through hope and perseverance we have triumphed.”

In the fall of 1975, the choir was formed by a group of men and women from the Novi area. They came together to sing for fun while keeping their memories sharp and meeting other singers who had an interest in a wide variety of music. They began performing for church functions, at nursing homes, and for service clubs and special events held by the city of Novi and Novi Public Schools. In 1980, the Novi Parks and Recreation Department invited the Choralaires to become a division of the department.

The Choralaires will present “Hope Triumphant” at 4 p.m. Dec. 5 at Church of the Holy Family, 24505 Meadowbrook Road in Novi. They will also perform at 4 p.m. Dec. 12 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 28000 New Market Road in Farmington Hills. Tickets cost $10 and will be available at the door.

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