Kauai Chorale puts out the call for singers

LIHUE — If you can’t read music, are unsure about your singing voice, tend to be a little nervous in groups, and aren’t too wild about public performances, Kauai Chorale still wants to hear from you.

Just ask Derrick Vander Meulen.

“You’re welcome to join us,” he said. “We’re very eager to bring in new people. We have plenty of room for more.”

Vander Meulen came on board in August as the new president of Kauai Chorale.

He takes the place of Wes Cronk, who held the post for about 10 years before deciding the time was right to step down.

“Wes was a wonderful president,” Vander Meulen said. “He did a lot of stuff on his own to make sure things got done.”

Vander Meulen isn’t an opera singer, but he knows music, sang in his high school choir, took voice lessons and loves to sing.

He’s also the pastor of Grace Church of Kauai, which goes with more traditional hymns, mixing in some contemporary, too. The church of about 30 people, which stands behind The Pineapple Store in Hanamaulu, has pretty good music, great even, depending on your tastes.

“We think we do,” he said, laughing.

Vander Meulen, a father of six and grandfather of two, lives in Kalaheo with his wife Debbie, who also sings in the Chorale.

They came to Kauai six years ago from Michigan, where he served two churches.

He was pleased when the board asked him to lead Kauai Chorale.

“Honored would be the best word to describe how I felt,” he said. “Very honored. I see that as an opportunity to serve the community. I think the fine arts are important to any community.”

Being the president means he leads board meetings — one so far — and follows through on board decisions and plans. He handles introductions at events like the Chorale’s annual Christmas concerts in December, and just does his best to represent and promote the nonprofit in the community. He also takes part in Monday rehearsals the Chorale recently started to prepare for its holiday programs. He loves the opportunity to welcome members, old and new.

So far, the choir has about 80 voices, but could always use a few more — especially young ones.

Vander Meulen said he would love to have additional members of the younger generation singing on stage with the Chorale, though he admits he’s not entirely sure how to make that happen.

That’s because it tends to be the older generation that’s able to commit to the organization’s two-hour rehearsals on Monday nights. So he’s pondering how to attract a mix of ages to Kauai Chorale.

“It’s good to draw younger people into the choir,” Vander Meulen said.

He is looking forward to this season’s shows, and invites the community attend a concert. He is confident people will enjoy the performances.

“We have a lot of variety,” he said.

Kauai Chorale is directed by Lois Ricciardio. Rehearsals are 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays at Island School.


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