Bruce Cochran used to conduct the choir at his Chandler church until he was replaced with a new music ministry. The change motivated him to start a choir of his own. The Mesa 53-year-old started the East Valley Chorale in 1999 with 14 singers from three churches.
Now, the community choir has 54 men and women from 28 churches who sing familiar sacred music, including hymns, classical pieces, Southern gospel and spirituals.
“I really wanted to work with people who were motivated to sing,” said Cochran, who also directs the chorale. “I just like the sound of choral music and like the opportunity to work with enthusiastic, talented people.”
The chorale sings at care centers, RV parks and churches, and is so popular it is booked through February.
The choir rehearses weekly at Crossroads Nazarene Church in Chandler, where Cochran attends.
Chandler resident Catherine Back, a new member, said Cochran’s passion for music and directing shows through in the choir.
“He just wants to encourage people in the gifts they have with singing,” she said. “He’s very encouraging and supportive, and is very sensitive and helpful. He really has a heart for people as well as for music.”
Cochran also directs the Mesa Regal RV Park Choir during the winter months, and for the past three years has brought both choirs together for joint concerts. Both conducting positions are voluntary.
Although Cochran’s passion is choral music, he also has a love for math and engineering.
By day he is a senior staff engineer at General Dynamics in Scottsdale, and has a doctorate in electrical engineering from Arizona State University.
He also taught graduate electrical engineering classes at ASU for 10 years.
Cochran has always enjoyed participating in church choirs.
He sang in college choirs, and in the summer in 1980, sang and toured with his wife, Kathy, in the Continental Singers, a nonprofit, interdenominational ministry.
After completing the tour, he realized he wasn’t the greatest singer. His forte was bringing the music out of other people, he said.
Cochran met his mentor, Gary Bonner, now the dean of music at the California Baptist University, and became hooked on choir conducting. Cochran went to conducting seminars and studied with Bonner.
“Music communicates in a way that spoken words can’t,” Cochran said. “It connects to people’s memories and experiences.”
East Valley Chorale
Information: call (480) 833-8056 or visit www.eastvalleychorale.org.