Music lovers in the area can rest easy as one of the area’s best-known vocal ensembles is set to kick off its concert season, organizers announced recently.
Board member Mark Gillespie says VOCE will be having its first rehearsal of the season on Sept. 8, starting at 7 p.m., at the First Baptist Church in Dobson.
Gillespie said the first rehearsal is open to anyone who would like to participate.
“We welcome anyone who wants to come and try out, whether they’re new or former members,” he said. “If people want to come and audition, we’re open for anything. We’re treating this first rehearsal as sort of a newbie night.
“All former, current and new members are invited to participate,” Gillespie added. “It is not a requirement that you are able to read music or have a classically-trained voice to sing with VOCE. We are looking for the most talented and diverse musicians our area has to offer.”
VOCE was established in 2002 by the late Sandy Beam, who died in February 2011.
And once again this year, one of Beam’s students will be leading VOCE.
After Beam’s death, Patti Miller Fulk assumed the position of VOCE artistic director. Fulk studied with Beam from the first grade until graduation from North Surry High School. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in music from Mars Hill College, and retired as a music teacher in the Surry County schools in 2011.
Gillespie said this year’s selections will be more varied than in the past.
“Historically, VOCE has performed mostly classical, sacred and Broadway-type music,” he said. “Fulk has added selections from a wide variety of musical styles to expand and enhance our repertoire. As a result, VOCE had its most successful concert season and largest attendance last year under her direction.”
This year, the ensemble’s first performance will be in October, when the group performs music from Motown featuring Mount Airy resident and internationally-renowned vocalist Melva Houston. Also scheduled to perform this year will be rising recording artist Jon Hildreth, a graduate of North Surry High School.
“We are hoping for our most exciting and successful concert season this year,” Gillespie said. “We have the area’s most talented and committed group of musicians, a very active board of directors, increasing support from the community and a diverse collection of music that will appeal to most anyone who attends a performance.”
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the group, or anyone wishing to donate to the non-profit, can call Gillespie at 789-2035. Information is also available via the Internet at vocemtairy.org, or Facebook.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.