The Ballantyne Chorale prepares for first performance

The Charlotte Observer
South Charlotte News
Sunday, April 2014

Pictured far left, Jane Russell, one of the founding members of The Ballantyne Chorale Group. Russell said, “I love to sing and I like that this group started with Hawk Ridge and has become a part of Ballantyne’s community arts.”

Pictured far left, Jane Russell, one of the founding members of The Ballantyne Chorale Group. Russell said, “I love to sing and I like that this group started with Hawk Ridge and has become a part of Ballantyne’s community arts.”

In a small music room at Hawk Ridge Elementary School, 13 voices joined together in melodious harmony. Men and women, ages 17-70, from various backgrounds and cultures sang, joked and embraced one another for over an hour at rehearsal on Thursday, April 3.

17-year-old Onastasia Ebright of Fort Mill said, “I’ve never been in a chorus with people other than my peers. It’s been interesting to sing with older people whose voices are more developed and also learning that adults are not that much different than teenagers. We are all just people.”

Vince Librizzi, 44-year-old Medical Device Sales Specialist from Blakeney said this is his first time performing with a choral group. “I’m nervous but excited,” he said.

: Pictured left to right: Director Beverly Warkulwiz and Pianist Amber Faulhaber work with the singers to improve sections of songs.

: Pictured left to right: Director Beverly Warkulwiz and Pianist Amber Faulhaber work with the singers to improve sections of songs.

The Ballantyne Chorale officially developed in January, but the idea for the group was a long-time coming. Founder, Music Director and Co-Facilitator of The Ballantyne Chorale Beverly Warkulwiz said, “I needed music back in my life.”

From the late 80s until 1998, Warkulwiz performed in choir groups at Scranton High School and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She also worked as a music director from 2002-2006 at Christ United Methodist Church in Selinsgrove, Penn. and Beaver Memorial United Methodist Church in Lewisburg, Penn.

Warkulwiz, 38-year-old freelance editor and website manager said she hadn’t been involved with a choral group since moving to Charlotte in 2006, until she joined Hawk Ridge Elementary School’s first and only Parent-Teacher Choir during the 2011-2012 school year.

The Parent-Teacher Choir was co-created by Karla Williams and Amber Faulhaber, music teacher at Hawk Ridge Elementary. The choir inspired Warkulwiz to create a permanent community chorus in Ballantyne.

With the help of Amber Faulhaber—Co-Facilitator and Pianist of The Ballantyne Chorale — as well as other members from the original Parent-Teacher Choir, Hawk Ridge’s Physical Education teacher Jane Russell and former PTA President Julie Yakoboski, The Ballantyne Chorale was formed and formally held auditions in late January/early February.

18 singers made the final cut to perform as a part of thegroup this year — filling soprano, alto, tenor and base parts. However, the group will have yearly audition and hopes to grow with time.

13 of those singers, while enjoying one another’s company, also worked studiously to improve their parts at rehearsal on April 3. Pencils in hand, each marked notes on their sheet music as Warkulwiz pointed out parts that needed work. She said, “We’ve come a long way, but we need fine-tuning. We’ll get there.”

Singers practice “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” one song that will be performed this year as part of their water-themed collection.

Singers practice “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” one song that will be performed this year as part of their water-themed collection.

The group’s first mini-performance will be at Hawk Ridge Elementary School’s Night of Music on May 1. Their first event is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. at Light of Christ United Methodist Church on Bryant Farms Rd. Saturday, May 17.

This year, the group plans to perform water-themed songs across several musical genres, including songs “Africa” by Toto, “Orinoco Flow” by Enya, The Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea”—to be performed with Hawk Ridge Elementary children’s choir, “The River of Dreams” by Billy Joel and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel.

To find out more about The Ballantyne Chorale and upcoming performances, visit www.facebook.com/theballantynechorale.

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