Local girls shine in Meredith program

By Sarah Barr, sbarr@newsobserver.com

May 15, 2013 – The oldest members of the Capital City Girls Choir stand in two rows in a music room at Meredith College, two weeks before their spring concert.

It’s wardrobe check day, and they’re dressed in floor-length, burgundy gowns with strings of pearls around their necks.

Director Fran Page stands facing them, and when she raises her arms, they begin to sing Lee Dengler’s “Things That Never Die,” a composition based on a poem by Charles Dickens. As the song progresses, their clear voices soar, filling the room.

As the final notes fade, Page smiles.

“That was gorgeous,” she tells them. “I think I’m in love.”

But it could be even better, she adds with another smile. And so they begin again, working through each line of the song to make sure it will be perfect when they take the stage.

For 25 years, Page, a professor of music at Meredith, has led the choir, a community outreach program of the school. It began as a co-ed children’s choir, but the Raleigh Boychoir drew many of the area’s most talented young boys, so Page decided the choir would include only girls.

Since then, it has grown to three choirs, separated by age, that draw 70 singers from all over the Triangle. Girls must audition to join.

Andrea Cornel, 11, is in her second year with the choir. She said one thing she loves about the experience is knowing that her fellow choir members want to be there just as much as she does.

“Everybody loves to sing,” she says.

With the youngest girls, Page focuses on basic skills and teaching them to be comfortable on stage. As they progress, they build on those skills and perform more often.

Khadija Mumford, 16, has been part of the choir since she was in third grade. She said some of her favorite memories are of performances with other choirs from around the country. She also likes being part of a tight-knit community of people who love music as much as she does.

“Everybody’s really close,” she said.

The choir has sung on stages all over, including in London, Vienna and Rome, and has performed with the North Carolina Opera and the North Carolina Symphony. Many of the girls go on to major in music in college.

Page said her goal is to instill a love of music, so that all of the girls – even those who don’t study music – find ways to keep singing.

“That’s something that they can do for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Reprinted with permission from the News and Observer’s North Raleigh News