Piedmont Choral Society Sings for More Than Just the Love of Music
Sep 07, 2018 05:46PM
By Melanie Heisinger
Photo courtesy of Mark Owensby.
The PCS is made up of talented singers from all walks of life, many of which hold professional positions as directors of other musical groups and church choirs. The mission of the chorus is to provide the opportunity for qualified local singers to present high-caliber, professional performances of both sacred and secular choral works, and to use their talents to serve the community.
The chorus employs an artistic staff consisting of a music director and accompanist. It is governed by a board of directors, led by an elected president, and relies upon the activities of many volunteer members of the chorus and community.
Director Joseph Judge is the PCS' current director. His love of choral music and his vast knowledge of conducting are evident at each rehearsal, and he has brought the choir to a high level of musicianship.
Judge is a graduate of Pfeiffer College, received his Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado, and is presently pursuing a Doctoral Degree. Judge is Director of Vocal and Choral Music and Assistant Professor of Music at Pfeiffer University, Misenheimer, NC, Music Director of Music for Central Methodist Church in Albemarle, and also teaches private voice lessons.
Each member pays semester dues in order to help with expenses, with new members accepted at the beginning of each semester – in September and in January. In fact, there's an audition coming up Monday, September 10 at 7 pm at Forest Hill United Methodist Church. Auditions are open to everyone.
"Even though many members of our choir have extensive musical backgrounds, you do not have to be a virtuoso singer to be accepted," Kay Yates, PCS' organizing manager, told us. "If you love music, blend with others and are willing to work on our challenging repertoire, you’ll be a great fit for our group."
Music is the PassionYates has always had a deep passion for music, noting that it all began listening to the radio – the Grand Old Opry – with her dad when she was about 4. Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church, Yates had plenty of opportunities to be involved in choirs. "My sister and I began taking piano lessons from a Pentecostal Pastor when we were very young," Yates said. "Transferring my piano skills, I taught myself to play the organ and began playing it for our church when I was 15. I have continued studying piano and voice, teaching piano, and using my talents and love for music throughout my entire life… Music IS my life."
In college, Yates majored in vocal music, church music and music education, but it was a choir rehearsal of Messiah, with full orchestra, in December of her sophomore year that absolutely changed her forever. "I had never sung with an orchestra before – I had never been close to those instruments before – and I could not believe the power of uniting our 60 some voices with the excitement of a live orchestra!" Yates told us.
It was there that Yates realized she had found her calling. After college, for several years, Yates was a member of the Concord Choral Society, a small vocal group composed of music majors, church choir directors, vocal teachers, etc. This group, as well as many other varying choral groups in Concord through the years, ceased to exist for a variety of reasons, leaving lots of talented vocalists without a choir “home.”
Thus, as a result of a choral absence, the PCS was created in September 1997 with its new official name.
Getting StartedYates joined PCS in the fall of 2003, a few months after the death of her father. "At this time, I had been out of the choir scene for quite a while," she said. "Singing with the group, enjoying the fellowship, making new friends and becoming a part of the choral family again did wonders for my soul! I was happy - after a very long time."
In December of 2004, the PCS director resigned suddenly, leaving the choir with no musical leader, accompanist or rehearsal and performance space. It was time for action if the PCS was going to continue and survive.
Yates made it her mission to ensure that the PCS would survive, and a new board was formed. It was then that Yates volunteered to serve as president and manager. She was able to find a welcoming church base for their rehearsals and concerts at Forest Hill UMC on Union Street in Concord.
After that, a member of the group, Johnny Lazenby, agreed to be the interim director, with Yates as was the accompanist. Music was selected and rehearsals started in January of 2005, right on schedule.
"Since this re-birth of our group, our success has soared, far beyond any expectations," Yates said. "Our membership has more than doubled. Our concert and event attendance is larger than ever. We have expanded the variety of our musical offerings to include not only choral masterworks, but also differing styles of music in our events."
With these important adjustments, the PCS is able to reach a wide variety of audiences.
Yates' role continues as President of this wonderful group, and she is fortunate to be able to spend the time it takes to supervise planning, publicity, marketing, fund-raising, brain-storming, programs, receptions and all the other various things that are necessary for our success. She also help with rehearsals, serves as substitute accompanist and director when necessary, and willingly helps in any area.
Each year, the PCS performs May and December concerts, presented two times each, on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. The goal for these concerts is to add professional instrumental accompaniment to enhance our music, and to give the audience the experience of a quality live performance. Performances include renditions of Handel's Messiah, Requiem by Faure and Rutter, as well as many other spectacular choral masterworks, all accompanied with orchestra.
PCS EventsAs Yates stated before, the PCS is always thinking of a new format for an event. "We sang a Valentine's concert of love songs," their website states. "We have performed a variety of World War I songs, and have plans for an evening of Broadway hits, songs of the 50's and 60's, and others."
Their annual “Old Fashioned Hymn Sing' and food drive for CCM is also presented each fall. This very popular event features the older, traditional, beloved hymns, with lots of hymn requests from the audience. Through this program, the choir has received and donated over 1/2 ton of canned goods to the Cooperative Christian Ministry to help feed the hungry.
"I fondly remember the huge turnout we had at our first annual “Old Fashioned Hymn Sing” and food drive," Yates told us. "Over 350 people attended, many bringing canned food to donate to our local food bank. The audience response to our singing and the joy that showed through on their faces as they sang the old familiar hymns with the choir was so touching. It was (and continues to be) wonderful."
The PCS hosts an annual “All Patriotic Music" Benefit Concert Series in late June. It's their most exciting event of the year. Here the choir recognizes and honors the country, the service personnel, and their families. The choir has a meaningful salute to our POWs and MIAs with a moving rendition of “Bring Him Home“ and the presentation of the POW/MIA flag. Veterans and active service personnel take part by presenting the various flags of their service branches as all who have or are serving are honored with the applause of the audience.
Each year, a local non-profit is chosen by the PCS as a recipient of all proceeds from the first of the concert performances. Since 2004, over $30,000 has been donated by our generous audiences and distributed to the following non-profits:
SupportThe best way to support PCS is by attending concerts, with plenty of friends and family, too! Since the choral group is a 501c3, non-profit organization, they are financially supported by choir members, individual contributors, business supporters, the North Carolina and the Cabarrus Arts Council. Most funds donated goes to their greatest material need, which is funding for music purchases and professional accompaniment.
"We are like family. We take care of each other, we help each other in time of need – we sit with our sick, we send cards, we encourage, we laugh, we sing, we make beautiful music – we enjoy each other and we LOVE our music and what this music does for us and for each person who hears us," Yates said. "We believe that music changes lives. I KNOW it changed mine."
Auditions for our fall semester will take place Monday, September 10 at 7 pm at Forest Hill United Methodist Church, 265 Union Street North, Concord. The audition is a simple process – no... Read More »
The 50 voice Piedmont Choral Society presents its 9th annual "Old Fashioned Hymn Sing" featuring older traditional, beloved hymns and anthems, hymn stories and audience requests. Read More »
The 50 voice Piedmont Choral Society presents its Christmas Concert series featuring elegant arrangements of familiar carols and seasonal favorites, accompanied by professional instrument... Read More »
The Piedmont Choral Society rehearses and performs at Forest Hill United Methodist Church at 265 Union Street North, Concord. For more info, you visit their website or contact Kay Yates at 704-699-6053 or [email protected]