They sing together. They laugh together. They support each other.
The Williamsburg Women's Chorus is more than a local choral group. It's a community of 52 women knit as tightly as their harmonies.
"These women are my best friends," member Judy Buehler said.
In its 51st season, the chorus presents a winter concert on Friday, Dec. 18. This concert is the last for artistic director Ann Porter, who has led the group for 10 years.
On a quiet Thursday morning, chorus members trickled into the basement of Bruton Parish House. The building cacophony of chatter melded suddenly into a single note, started by Porter. Rehearsal started.
Laughter soon followed.
Porter has been a catalyst for many things within the group, fun being one of them.
"She's the most fun," said Terri Osborne, a member for over 20 years. Osborne described Porter's penchant for storytelling: "But it's not just, you know, to share a story. There's a message behind her stories."
"It lifts us up," Osborne said.
Susan Releford joined the group soon after moving to Williamsburg in 2011. She had sung in church choir before, but Releford said she's learned many techniques under Porter's direction.
"Everybody has their talents," Osborne said. "She brings it out."
Buehler participated in a number of choirs throughout the years, but from Porter, she's learned the importance of connecting with audiences.
Porter worked for 34 years in public school music. High school choral music was her great love, she said. But after entering a new chapter, Porter never stopped loving choral music, and she never stopped pursuing it, especially with a characteristic energy chorus members know well.
"I was encouraged to always improve myself," Porter said. "That's the biggest gift of all."
In the process, Porter found joy in researching women's choral music.
"This group has given me the opportunity to have the joy of finding music that works for them," Porter said. "That's a great gift."
"I have so many gifts returning to me because of them," she said.
Porter said the first part of Friday's performance centers around seasonal music, ending with a rousing spiritual. The second section features two pieces about thankfulness: Bob Chilcott's "This Day" and Gwyneth Walker's "I Thank You God."
"It's unusual music that still has the spirit of the holidays," Buehler said.
Williamsburg Youth Chorale, also directed by Porter, and the Williamsburg Treble Singers will join the Women's Chorus at the concert.
Bridges can be reached at 757-275-4934.
Want to go?
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 18
Where: Walnut Hills Baptist Church, 1014 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg
Information: Call Hilary at 757-250-3547 or visit williamsburgwomenschorus.org