Beverly Warkulwiz put singing on the back burner after moving to Ballantyne in 2006. Performing was a large part of her life as a child in chorale ensembles and as a young adult serving as a church choir director after college, but that faded over time. Adulthood put too many other duties in Warkulwiz’s path for singing to stay a main focus.
The passion wasn’t gone, however. It was just waiting for the right opportunity.
“I sang two songs at a kids concert, and it started something,” Warkulwiz remembered of her first time singing for a crowd in at least six years. The performance was with the Hawk Ridge Parent-Teacher Choir, started by school music teachers Amber Faulhaber and Karla Williams.
She performed two songs that night, one of which was with the school choir.
“It started something,” Warkulwiz said.
That something is now the Ballantyne Chorale, a group of local performers who held their first official concert on May 17 at Light of Christ United Methodist Church in Ballantyne (they actually debuted two weeks earlier by sharing in a performance at Hawk Ridge’s Night of the Arts event). The water-themed concert included songs such as “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid” and other titles from Toto, Billy Joel and Simon and Garfunkel.
“We had a little more than 100 people in attendance at our first concert, which is pretty spectacular,” Warkulwiz said of a performance that lasted about an hour and included five ensemble pieces. The group also was joined by about 10 students from Hawk Ridge and some of the chorale members’ children.
It was a big step forward for something Warkulwiz described as a “dream way before it became a reality.” The chorale group was a work in progress for two years before this month’s concert, as attempts to put together an official organization fell through.
Warkulwiz stuck with it, with the help of Hawk Ridge’s Faulhaber and the support of the school’s principal, Troy Moore, who gave the women a place to start meeting and practicing. Warkulwiz and Faulhaber were joined by Jane Russell and Julie Yakoboski, completing the Founding Four and setting the wheels in motion.
Auditions were held in January and February as the Ballantyne Chorale came together and raced toward the May performance. There were 15 vocalists that night, including members from as far away as Kings Mountain drawn to what Warkulwiz believes is the first community choir in Ballantyne.
She expects the early excitement over the group to continue and attract new voices.
“I’d love to have a solid 40-person ensemble, get so many people that eventually we have to look for a new rehearsal space…” Warkulwiz said of what will be an effort to “fill the stage and fill the seats.”
The Ballantyne Chorale will start auditioning again in September, with rehearsals at the end of the month and then a break in November for holiday rehearsals in hopes of caroling in local communities in December. The winter caroling will allow vocalists who can’t commit to a full season in the Ballantyne Chorale to still take part for a time. The group will then continue preparing for a spring concert and possibly even more growth.
“We don’t want to be just any choir,” Warkulwiz said. “I want to do fun and exciting things and just (be) different, fresh and new and really be anchored to the community.”
Find more information about the group at its Facebook page, www.