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Evanne Weirich; founded chorus, was Vt. educator

NEWARK, Vt. -- Evanne Weirich, founder of the Newark Balkan Chorus, has died.

Ms. Weirich, 50, died at home of cancer.

Ms. Weirich was a teacher at the Newark Street School and started the chorus in 1994. She combined harmonies and rhythms while teaching the teenage girls about Macedonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, and other Balkan countries.

The chorus eventually grew into a well-known a cappella group. In 1997 the chorus performed on Garrison Keillor's nationally broadcast radio program, ''A Prairie Home Companion." The group also appeared in the movie ''In The Bedroom" and sung at Carnegie Hall in 1999.

Chorus members had planned a benefit performance to help cover Ms. Weirich's medical costs this weekend.

The concert will be held in celebration of Ms. Weirich's life today at 2 p.m. at the St. Johnsbury School.

Elly Barksdale, an original member of the chorus, has stayed involved with the group and stepped in as director when Ms. Weirich became ill.

''She was a wonderful person with an amazing sense of humor," Barksdale said Friday.

''It will be an end of an era at Newark Street School," Barksdale said.

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