Something to sing about
By DAWNE LEIKER
Members of Smoky Hill Chorale might come from diverse backgrounds, but one note rings true for all: a heart for music.
Although some members of the 32-member adult community-based vocal group are Hays residents, many hit the road for Monday rehearsals traveling from Lucas, Plainville, Palco and other area towns.
Craig Plotner, Lucas, was encouraged to join the group by Ruth Walters, coordinator of Smoky Hill Chorale, who heard him singing and playing his guitar at a coffee shop approximately two years ago.
"I just do this for fun," Plotner said Monday evening, just before Smoky Hill Chorale began warm-up exercises in Fort Hays State University's Malloy Hall. "I love to do it.
"Dr. Crull is an excellent director."
Plotner, who taught high school choir in Tucson, Ariz., has sung baritone with the Smoky Hill Chorale for two years.
He said he enjoys the variety of music the group performs. From masterworks material to Broadway show tunes, members also are looking forward to performing barbershop music during the spring semester.
Jeff Adams, Plainville K-6 vocal music teacher, is a newcomer to the Smoky Hill Chorale. He joined the group after hearing them perform at the December Cathedral Concert at St. Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria.
"I just like being involved in singing," Adams said, as vocal warm-ups coming from the rehearsal hall provided background music. "I like meeting people and networking.
"Doing K-6 music, I'm with younger kids, so I don't get a chance to do this kind of literature on a regular basis. You can only do 'Hot Cross Buns' so many times."
The vocal group is a social outlet for Leola Whisman, who farms in Palco with her husband.
"The cows don't talk back to me very well," Whisman said with a laugh.
She's been with the group six years and received a much-appreciated answer to a request when her three sons joined Smoky Hill Chorale last year, performing with the group at the cathedral concert.
To Plotner and many other chorale members who are former or current music directors, the group provides a satisfying musical outlet.
"After the years that I taught, it's nice for me to be able to just come and relax and enjoy the singing, without having the responsibility of directing," he said. "It's just fun."
Smoky Hill Chorale is under the direction of Terry Crull, FHSU assistant professor of music and director of choral activities. Rehearsals are most Monday nights during the spring and fall school semesters at Harold Palmer Recital Hall in Malloy Hall.
An April 2 concert at North Oak Community Church will feature a "light fare," according to Crull, centering on a "love lost or slipped away" theme. On May 4, the Smoky Hill Chorale will join FHSU groups and Hays Symphony Orchestra at the Masterworks Concert to perform Mozart's "Vespers," a "fabulous choral/orchestral work of about 25 minutes in length," Crull said.
"The Smoky Hill Chorale really wants to grow," Crull said. "Although we've passed the joining point for this season, we encourage any post-high school choral musicians to join us in the future."
For more information, contact Crull at (785) 628-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ruth Walters, a chorale member, at (785) 650-9493 or email@example.com.