Rita Ralston, Baritone
This quarter’s member spotlight hales from Fremont, Ohio and is this year’s Barbershopper of the Year.
Rita, a graduate of Ohio Dominican University, taught high school math in Newark, Ohio, for many years, then junior high math upon moving to Maryland, and notes, “I loved teaching math.” She also was the accountant for 15 years for the company her husband, Trent, began in Maryland. They sold the company in 1999 and both retired to Nashua to be closer to their married daughter, Stephanie, her husband, and three grandchildren in Newton, MA. Sadly, Trent has since passed away, but Rita says that she “keeps really busy, and has a happy, rewarding life.”
She takes classes at RISE, a program at Rivier University for seniors to keep on being lifelong learners, is on the RISE council and is managing editor of DAWN, the literary journal of RISE. She plays Mah Jong weekly with a group of 12 women who rotate hosting duties. She labels it “a fun group.” She even exercises with a personal trainer twice a week and says she finds it extremely valuable. Rita frequently volunteers with St. John Neumann’s Day Away program for Alzheimer’s caregivers; and also sings with the parish seasonal choir.
Her musical ability started young. “My siblings all sang, played the piano and/or an instrument in the school band. My mother made sure of that, and I followed suit,” she says. “I joined any chorus, choir or band that was available in school and college.” Her Maryland church choir is/was outstanding, travelling to Rome, touring Italy and “sang at the Vatican four times. I loved that group!” she exclaims. After moving to Nashua, she sang with the Nashua Symphony Choral group and the New Hampshire Friendship Chorus, travelling to Cuba to sing.
“After my husband passed away, I searched for a serious vocal group that sang well but also sang happy music. Requiems and classical music are beautiful and challenging, but I needed something happy at this point in my life,” she explains. Enter Jackie White, who sings with her in the St. John Neumann’s seasonal choir, and who told her about NEVIH. “With NEVIH,” she says, “I got more than I expected. I was challenged musically, more than I imagined I ever would be, and the beautiful arrangements are fun to sing.”
As a former Member-at-Large and previous Vice President of membership, she loves NEVIH’s music and says she loves singing baritone to harmonize with the “beautiful voices in the group. I especially love the close friendships I’ve formed with the wonderful, caring women who are members. I’m definitely one of the older members,” she laughs, “but I feel young singing with this group. They keep me young….I love it!”
When asked where she sees the chorus headed in the next ten years, she replies: “I enjoy the recent additions of upbeat, current music to our repertoire. The close harmony and lively rhythms are challenging, which I enjoy. I see us continuing to do more of that. I envision lots of great times in our future, our group growing, and becoming more widely recognized in the community.”
With members like Rita, NEVIH can’t help but prosper.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT is a new quarterly column for the website. Four times a year, we will focus on a member in a new and hopefully, interesting way. Enjoy!