I ran across the Singers of Summerville on their Facebook page.
Back in August, I attended one of the group’s rehearsals to meet with them and hear them — quite impressive.
Artistic Director and Conductor Valerie Bullock has led the group since 2006. Bullock is the former chair of the Horton School of Music at Charleston Southern University.
She also serves as the director of Music Ministries at Bethany United Methodist Church there.
This hyperlink https://photos.app.goo.gl/UuGVQUXiJ2Z1U5ZB6 is a brief video of the group rehearsing “Billy Boy” by Composer Timothy Michael Powell, whose music will be featured at the group’s Oct. 20 concert at 4 p.m. in the Sanctuary of the Bethany UMC, where the group will also be joined by the Fort Dorchester High School Patriot Singers (a group of 36) and a bluegrass ensemble.
Susan Storm, the group’s president, said many of the singers are looking for a fellowship of musicians and that she got an audition with the group within a week of landing here from Pennsylvania.
Another singer, Lenora Dietzel, moved here from Maryland seven years ago and said she likes the way the group performs secular music in one concert and then other types of music in another show, saying it is very challenging, but enjoyable. The group performs a fall show (sacred music) and a spring concert (show tunes).
Regan: When and how did the Singers of Summerville form? How has the group evolved through the years?
Bullock: The group initially formed in August 2003 by the Greater Summerville Music Forum of South Carolina. The group strives—through community outreach and local concerts—to provide performances of the very best sacred and secular choral music of the past five centuries for the enjoyment and musical education of the Greater Charleston community.
Regan: You hold auditions twice a year (in Aug. & Jan.). Is it tough to get in? How many singers are in the group now and have a fair number of them been part of the group for several years now?
B: The actual roster of singers is at 50 although we have a core of 38 dedicated volunteer musicians/singers, many of whom are professional musicians in the area. Returning singers do not have to re-audition and most of the singers are from the Tri-County area.
R: Tell us about the types of music you perform? How many rehearsals does it typically take to be ready for a performance?
B: We perform a wealth of choral literature, not just secular pieces. Last season, 2018-2019, we performed a Jazz Mass in the fall and at Piccolo Spoleto with a jazz combo and then a secular show in the spring of American Standards with a rhythm section.
R: What are some of your favorite performances and/or collaborations?
B: There have been collaborations in the past with CSU. Back in 2006, the Mozart Requiem was my first concert with the Singers of Summerville in conjunction with the Charleston Symphony. We teamed up with them again in 2008 performing the Brahms Requiem. Since then, we have performed with the Rollings School of the Arts in 2013 and 2015 and with the Lowcountry Voices in 2019. In February 2020, we are doing a special Total Praise II show which will highlight more solo and duo pieces and a jazz combo in combination with the Lowcountry Voices of Charleston at St. John the Beloved.
R: Tell us about your Oct. 20 concert which has a mixture of music being showcased, even bluegrass. What’s next for the group?
Can the public purchase a CD of your music?
B: In this unique event, the Singers of Summerville present a variety of mountain inspired works, from uplifting Appalachian spirituals to lively folk tunes and nostalgic ballads. Featured compositions include Dear Appalachia: Songs for My Mountain Home, a bluegrass triptych by renowned composer Timothy Powell, and Come Away to the Skies: A High Lonesome Mass, a folk-infused traditional Roman mass in a bluegrass setting composed by Wes Ramsay and Timothy Sharp. Along with the Singers, the evening will showcase the talents of live bluegrass musicians as well as the Fort Dorchester High School Patriot Singers directed by Lindsey Webb.