It began in the early 1980s when the late professional singer Margaret Imrie and her husband Gordon assembled semi-pro singers and some violists to serenade Manhattan’s subway ticket-takers, police stations and other locales needing cheer during the holidays.
Today, that tradition carries on, but now Gordon Imrie lives in Point Richmond and brings his band of Christmas crooners to Richmond locales in need of cheer.
This year’s caroling adventure brought the volunteer clan of gorgeous voices to four care facilities. The following YouTube video shows the singers caroling at the Shields Nursing Center on Cutting Boulevard:
Gordon Imrie was joined by bass Parker Imrie, tenors Karl Fezer and Daniel Bort, altos Kat Garcia-Rivera and Abby Innes, and sopranos Laurie L’Argent, who had her music transcribed to Braille, along with Brian Bort (down an octave).
The crew stopped by four of the six care facilities they had planned to visit before their voices gave out. Gordon Imrie said they will prioritize the locations they missed next year, and that his group chose locations that might get skipped over by other carolers. The idea, Imrie said, was to reach people in stable but dire condition.
“Apparently children’s facilities are more likely to get carolers because the kids are cute,” he said. “Such are not our gigs.”
This was their Christmas caroling map for this year’s event:
“Never have we needed rehearsal, but we do carry a pitch pipe and one of our number this year has experience leading choirs,” he said.
The tradition drums up fond memories of the group’s caroling past in New York, where a half-dozen singers that set out to spread cheer would balloon to 24 “friendly strangers” before retiring to cocoa at the Imrie’s Upper West Side home.
“After about 15 years of fun, we did similar [events] in Illinois,” he said.
After moving to California and enduring a few deaths, the caroling crew was revived last year and is expected to continue.