Cape Fear Choral
Whether it’s music students performing at a school concert, bands rocking it out for a crowd, or volunteer musicians playing and singing with local bands and choirs, one thing is clear — we love our music scene in southeastern North Carolina. Several Brunswick County residents take that love of music across the river to sing and perform with the Cape Fear Chorale, a vocal ensemble of between 60 and 80 singers. The group is in its 25th year and performs two concerts a year.
The Chorale is “committed to building and enriching our community through exceptional choral artistry and by creating meaningful, educational, and inclusive musical experiences,” according to the group’s website, https://capefearchorale.org/.
The Chorale’s next performance is May 19, called “Broadway Through the Ages.” The evening serves as a fundraiser, with sweets to sample, a silent auction and a raffle, and of course, plenty of show tunes.
So who are some of these singers who make the quick trek from Leland or drive a bit farther from Southport and St. James just to sing in the Chorale?
From the North Brunswick County/Leland area
Jennifer Lewis moved to Leland from Michigan 13 years ago, and has been singing with the Chorale for 13 seasons. She studied voice in school and privately, and though she has never worked full time as a singer, she has enjoyed side jobs as a soloist for wedding and funerals. The soprano started singing in a church choir at age 4, and said she has sung in every place she has lived, including Canada, Germany, and Belgium. “I enjoy singing all types of music from Classical, Gospel and Opera to Secular, Popular Music and Show tunes,” Jennifer said. “My favorite type is whatever I happen to be singing at the time! I just love to sing.”
Leland resident Edwin Hoefer has lived here 10 years, and calls himself an “experienced amateur.” The baritone has been singing in church choirs for 60 years, and also sang in college choirs. “I find that singing is a good experience for the heart and voice. It makes me feel good.” He also said a recent concert featured songs in English, German, French and Russian, and noted that he never before considered music to be a course in languages.
Alicia Powell lives in the Mallory Creek community, and says according to her Mom, she has been singing since she was 2 years old. She sings with the Altos, and this is her first full year with the Chorale. Alicia sang throughout her school years, including time with the top choir at East Carolina University and seven years with a semi-professional group in Virginia. “I can find something to love about all music, but choral music with a beautiful harmony will get me any time,” she said.
Linda Gallo has lived in Leland for three years, and she auditioned for the Chorale as soon as she could after seeing the group perform. She’s been singing since she was a small child, and can also accompany herself on piano. “I was impressed by the cohesiveness of the group, the caliber of the voices and music, and the direction,” she said. “It was impossible to resist such a group! These qualities are paramount to me and I have great respect for the musicianship of my fellow members, and am proud to call myself a peer.”
From the Southport/St. James area
Southport resident Caren Laiosa has been singing her whole life with her musical family and has been singing with various groups for more than 30 years. The soprano joined the Chorale three years ago, saying she was impressed with the quality of the sound of the Chorale, the high standards for singers and the director's style and ability.
Diane Lusk lives in St. James, and has been singing with groups since first joining a school chorus. She plays and has taught piano, sings Alto with the Chorale, and also sings in two a cappella groups in Southport — the Cape Fear A’cappella Singers and a women’s quartet called The TrebleMakers.
Learning more about these dedicated singers made one thing absolutely clear. They have been singing for decades and music has always been a part of their lives. Their reasons for singing may vary as much as the music they perform, but they all enjoy gathering with like-minded musicians to make beautiful music together.
“It is a group of about 70 wonderful voices who come together weekly with one purpose….to make gorgeous music together and ready it for performance,” Diane said. “Another reason I love singing with this Chorale is the sense of collaboration with wonderful people and wonderful musicians. This sense has lead to a group that loves to be together and are now good friends in our common interest,” she added.
“There are many reasons I enjoy singing with the Chorale including the friendships I have made over the years but the most rewarding thing about singing with the Chorale definitely has to be the feeling of accomplishment when we have perfected the musical repertoire,” Jennifer said. “The enjoyment that we give to others through our gift of music to all the audiences who have come to our free concerts over the years is just the icing on the cake!”
And for Alicia, the chance to harmonize with neighbors is very rewarding, especially after the hiatus due to the pandemic. “I absolutely love singing. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It makes me feel relaxed and at home. The right chord gives me chills!”
It also seems that singers have their favorite types of music to sing, but that they enjoy learning new music in all genres.
“I truly love harmonies across all genres of music,” Caren said. “There is nothing like hearing a perfect chord. I love singing old jazz standards and, of course, choral music.”