At the heart of this podcast and outlet is the desire to promote and make visible to the community various happenings around the city of Charlotte. It is much in line with the ‘Shop Local’ movement that has sprung up as independent businesses and ventures seem to close regularly only to be replaced by the now thriving entrepreneurial market now possible via the internet and social media. One particular distinction that I’d like to hi-light is that of music from the historically important community choir, or in this case, chorale.
The Ballantyne Chorale, in fine tradition, is composed of an aggregate of members that are mostly pulled from its namesake, the booming and modern neighborhood on the most southern edge of the city. The locality is known for its luxurious living circumstances that sprung fairly quickly from what was formerly farmland scarcely a few decades prior. It is now a premium suburban shopping hideaway that also flourishes business and with importance to the current topic, residential, both long-term and up and coming.
Music is very often a passion for anyone who pursues it and is predominantly practiced by those who don’t make it for a living. I wouldn’t expect to find a secret lawyer in an elementary school, or a part time surgeon making sandwiches at the nearby deli. But I can guarantee with near certainty that nearly every building establishment houses at least one closet musician and the larger the walls, the , more likely the case.
Melody is ingrained in our blood and if the sheer value of the music industry isn’t enough, certainly the amount of people whom have tried and quit after x amount of tries points to the fact that nearly everyone at heart at least wants to make music, if not be a musician. Before the era of digital streaming and even before that of recorded sound, to make music was one of two ways to even hear it. The other, was attending a concert of musicians and in scattered towns and quarters, local musicians of different backgrounds but capable talents, got together and made song.
This is what the role of the Ballantyne Chorale does for the community and it was recently they completed their 4th annual concert at The Fillmore in Charlotte.
Expanding beyond their namesake, this year’s concert opened with a young, of primary school age, lady playing through the final movement of Mozart Sonata in A K. 331, or what is widely known as ‘The Turkish March’. I can assure you, you would recognize it.
Beverly Warkulwiz is the chief operator and director of the chorale and she introduced this year’s concert to invite the audience in on the theme, “Pick you Battles”. Songs would have some sort relation to the battles we may be fighting whether they internal or external, with disease or through sports. Life is often marked by a series of clashes fought by both the individual and the collective, literal and slightly more metaphorical, though always real. With the closing of her words, the complete chorale began with a rendition of the piece, “Do you hear the People Sing?” and we were off.
The structure of the concert is diverse and following up, we get a series of solos and duets from the different members of the Chorale. This is when some of the single members get their opportunity to exhibit what brought them out of the bedroom and onto the stage. Of notice was the humorous and vibin’ energy of Jane Russel, one of the founding four members who navigate the fabric of the chorale and then there was also Sean O’ Leary who brought an experienced voice to Andra Day’s “Rise Up”. There was a mother/daughter duet with Beverly and her youngest with the song “True Colors” and all of this and forward numbers would be accompanied by the talented pianist and vocalist, Amber Faulhaber.
When we do arrive at the complete choir pieces, you can hear the sum of all the parts and it provides a great experience indeed. Sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses come together and take us through hits including the “Eye of the Tiger”, “Touch the Sky” (with the Hawk Ridge Elementary Choir), and in ecstatic fashion, a vocal reprise of Mozart’s theme.
The Ballantyne Chorale is a community organization in every sense of the word, founded and formed of rogue tax payers who have day jobs. They make the effort to get together weekly and practice either at a school, members’ homes, or whatever space may open up to them. During the holiday season, they perform at a variety of concerts in the city taking their listeners through the songs of the season.
While you won’t hear the vocal pyrotechnics of Adele or see the dance moves of Bruno Mars, you will be delivered an authentic love of the combination of harmony and lyric that is unpersuaded by record sales or executives. It could hardly be said of how much effort these happenings require on the behalf of its members and if anyone has any interest in ‘shopping local’ for music, you could hardly find an equal outing of quantity of communal songmakers.