Chorus expanding its reach to more possible singers
by Staff Writer
Some call music an international language, and the North Mecklenburg Community Chorus hope to speak to hundreds more in the area as leaders expand its programs to reach more people through music.
It’s the realization of a dream more than four decades old.
The story begins with the late Belle Banks, a northern transplant to Huntersville who, in 1971, felt like something was missing from the local community. With the help of her husband Dick, a movie and theater critic for the Charlotte Observer at the time, Belle founded the North Mecklenburg Community Chorus.
“They wanted to start a community singing program that would give people – most of whom did all their singing in church choirs – an outlet if they wanted to sing show tunes and things like that,” says Al Sudduth, the chorus’ Vice-President of Administration and Finance. Sudduth, a retired engineer who now works as a consultant, has been singing with the group since 1979.
In those early days, the North Mecklenburg Community Chorus found its roots at the Central Piedmont Community College campus. Although being part of the college had its perks, it also lacked flexibility.
“If you wanted to start a new singing group, then you have to go back and try to get them to create a new class,” says Sudduth.
And although that affiliation with the community college continues, part of the group has now branched off to form its own independent nonprofit organization, known as North Mecklenburg Community Chorus, Inc.
“This is going to be an umbrella organization,” said Daniela Sims, vice-president of marketing and public relations for the group. “The reason we wanted to have this organization is because we wanted to bring more singing options to people in the community.”
Sims herself is no stranger to music, or to the power that it can have over people. A native of Romania, she attended a music school there until she was 15 years old before later going on to sing professionally in Europe and Japan. After a four-year stint with Carolina Voices, she joined the North Mecklenburg Community Chorus 10 years ago.
As the group progresses, they hope to have various singing ensembles for children, youth and adults, as well as for different styles of music such as gospel or Latin. For the time being, the group consists of a small jazz ensemble of 8 to10 singers, as well as the main chorus, which has virtually no enrollment cap.
“If we can go up to 70 or 80 people, it’d be great,” Sims said.
The higher the numbers,33 the more directions they can take.
“That’s when you’re able to break off and say ‘I’m going to offer for you to sing this style,’” Ann Caroll president of the chorus, said, “Because not everyone likes to sing the same kind of music.”
Although the group does not audition its members, they do perform a vocal check in order to place each singer in their appropriate vocal section. They welcome all experience levels, but admit that at least a basic ability to read sheet music would be helpful.
Although the organization’s main performance venues will be the in the Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson areas, its Jazz Ensemble recently auditioned for and was selected to perform in the Tosco Music Party variety show in Charlotte next year. As for other venues in the future, the group has more than a few ideas in mind.
Want to know more?
For more information on the North Mecklenburg Community Chorus visit www.nmcchorus.org.