By Charity L. Cohen
Special to The Alamance News
Alamance Chorale has gifted Alamance County with music and fellowship since 1974. As the Chorale enters its 49th season, the group will be taking their gifts of music and fellowship abroad as they join seven other chorales from around the world this summer in London, England.
Alamance Chorale began as a small gathering of singers in the basement of a local church and has evolved into a 72-person ensemble made up of individuals of varying demographics with a shared love for community and music.
“For us, it’s a family,” Cathy Johnson, the group’s publicity chair and Chorale member, said.
“That has been a real drive for me, is to make it more of a family,” Arleen Widerman, the Chorale’s artistic director, added. “These people are just amazing in the way they support each other.”
Widerman, who is a retired music teacher and Minister of Music, joined Alamance Chorale when she was a student at Elon University. She has been an active member for about 47 years. Throughout her time with the Chorale, she has witnessed lifetime friendships and even marriages spring forth from the group.
“If you’ve ever sung or played in a group, there’s nothing like the dynamic of coming together to present something,” Johnson said.
Alamance Chorale hosts two main concerts per year, a Christmas concert and a spring concert. In the past, the group has caroled at Alamance Arts, and hosted dinner shows and other fundraising events, but COVID-19 put to pause on their dinner show exhibitions. At each of these events, the ensemble sang everything from Broadway show tunes to sacred, spiritual music.
“We try to be in the community in order to bring to the community, different kinds of music,” Johnson said of the group’s goal to sing diverse music in order to represent diverse audiences, as well as singers.
The Chorale’s spring concert on May 16 featured a piece called “Lux: The Dawn from on High,” which was written by South Carolinian Dan Forrest. The Chorale will also perform this piece across the pond with Vox Anima London on June 21 with over 200 singers and orchestral musicians from around the world.
This is the group’s first international performance, but not their first opportunity outside of the state. They participated in chorale presentations in New York City at Lincoln Center in 2015 and Carnegie Hall in 2018.
Both Johnson and Widerman are excited and eager for the Chorale to showcase their skills on an international stage. But more importantly, the two look forward to collaborating with others who share their same passion.
“It helps you grow musically and I’m always trying to help us to grow musically,” Widerman said.
In addition to growing the group musically, Widerman and Johnson hope to see new faces join the collective this September as they hold open rehearsals for anyone in the community who is interested. There are no auditions.
“We would love to diversify,” Widerman said. “We would like to make sure that folks know this is open to everybody, to all parts of the community.”
The spring concert will be held on May 16 at 7:30p.m. at Mebane Presbyterian Church. The group have been preparing for this upcoming spring concert as well as their performance Vox Anima London.
“I am so proud of them, because in spite of lots of limitations, they put forth the energy and effort to just do phenomenal work,” Widerman said.