The Smyrna Opera House decided, with its new season, to capitalize on all its local talent and create the SOH Chorale, a new community chorus. Between church choirs, high school chorus members—past and present— and a host of local musicians, Smyrna hosts a wealth of people with an ear for pitch and a voice for singing. Some of those people (30 of them, actually) met in the B. Stimson Carrow Auditorium, located on the second floor, last week to see what a new chorus would entail.
Led by Kathy DeLong, the group started singing almost immediately. They had to. The first performance will Sunday, Dec. 8, giving them only six rehearsals to perfect nine songs.
For some choir directors, the lack of time combined with the abundance of songs would seem like a pipe dream. DeLong is not worried, though. Growing up as a minister's daughter, she has known the inner-workings of choirs her whole life. She went on to study music in college, teaching music in Dover and serving as the choir director at church. Animated and energetic, she has an easy smile or a hug for every person who comes through the door. Right away she apologized, explaining that there wasn't enough time for introductions. They had to start singing. Her expectations might sound unrealistic but they're not.
"At the first rehearsal, you do not strive for perfection. You want to introduce them to everything," she explained. "I try to think about how I feel at a first rehearsal and I kind-of want to get a taste of everything we're going to do."
So, she introduces them to the music, recognizing that certain songs will be better liked than others but hoping that the variety will enable people to push through the ones they don't care for.
"We have some sacred Christmas songs, some secular ones, some that will be a little more challenging to learn than others and some that are simple, but that the audience will really enjoy," DeLong said. "But, because we only have six rehearsals and nine pieces, what I'd really like to do in the first two meetings is get through all the music , zeroing in on six on six of songs. Then, we'll add two more. Then, we'll add in the last one. So by the end, we're able to run through everything before we get on stage in December."
Chorale membership will open up again in February for the Winter/Spring 2014 season. Membership is $10 per season and more information can be obtained by calling (302) 653-4236 or by visiting www.smyrnaoperahouse.org.