LIHUE — Wesley Shane says he likes being part of the Kauai Chorale because it attracts people with different talents and skills.
“Last semester, the person sitting next to me didn’t know how to read music, and the person sitting on my other side had years of experience in the theatre,” he said. “So to have both on either side of you is cool because it’s the full spectrum.”
The chorale was founded in 1963 and it has grown to nearly 100 members. Previous experience is not required and people from all walks of life are welcome.
The chorale, directed by Lois Ricciardi, is split into two semesters — one that begins in September and one that begins in January. Members practice for two hours every Monday at the Island School cafetorium.
While members aren’t required to take part in both semesters, most of them return for the full year, said Derrick Vander Meulen, Kauai Chorale president.
Shane is one of them.
“I try to come to both,” he said. “The selections are different every semester, and I like the diversity.”
Last Monday, the cafetorium was filled with the sounds of almost 80 voices practicing harmonies for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Sway,” and others.
The moment when those 80 voices come together is one for which Domi Ragsac lives.
“Putting it all together — alto, bass, soprano, tenor — is a challenge, but rewarding when it falls into place,” he said.
Ragsac, a 10-year veteran with the chorale, said he joined because he believed he had something he could add to the group.
“Music is my life,” he said. “I’m a semi-professional musician. I sing and play the bass.”
Shane, a four-year chorale member, joined because he needed an outlet to sing again.
“I fell in love with singing in high school, but I didn’t get a chance to do it after I graduated, and I started to miss it,” he said.
Since joining the chorale, Shane has had a few solos, which he said can be nerve-wracking.
“But anything that puts you out of your comfort zone is good, and everyone is really supportive,” he said.
The first semester ends with a Christmas concert and participants get about five weeks off before starting the process over again. A May concert marks the end of the second semester.
The theme of May’s performance, which will feature 14 songs, is “Music is Forever,” Vander Meulen said. Among the songs are “Sway,” “The Lord is my Shepherd” and “A Jubilant Song.”
Performances will be held May 14 at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center and May 15 at the St. Regis Princeville Resort.
Last year’s Christmas concert attracted 500 people to KCC and 300 to the St. Regis.
The most rewarding part of the chorale is being able to create something, Shane said.
“I love the act of creation; it’s good for the body and soul,” he said.