Practice makes perfect for Elkin choir

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

November 18, 2013

More than 30 churches consisting of multiple denominations have been filling the First United Methodist Church each Thursday night for a series of choir practices all in preparation of the one-night holiday performance by the Elkin Community Choir.

The diverse collaboration of singers started more than 50 years ago and is still growing. In the past, visitors attending the local performance have hailed from North Carolina, Virginia and some from as far as South Carolina.

“Lots of hours are spent preparing for the night. We have the best set of dedicated people. They give up so much of their life for this performance,” said choir musical director David McCollum.

“I started singing in the group in the late ’80s and directing in the early ’90s. I co-directed with the founder until 2008,” he said. “It was special to walk in and share. Then I composed a piece. It all evolved from there.”

McCollum is also known as being heavily involved with the Elkin High School band — at one time McCollum was school band director for 21 years. He is also active with the Forbush High School band.

“This year we’ll be at about 95 performers. It’s really a tough commitment, but this choir is committed,” said McCollum.

McCollum said that one of the most special components of the choir are the support mechanism each offer to their fellow member. He said that more experienced members are always there to help a newcomer to understand the program and work through some of the challenging intricacies.

Eventually, steady practice appearances and a strong support structure make the music second nature.

“We have time constraints, so practices are not necessarily social time. It’s fun, but focused. Each participant gives their heart and it shows. Part of the reason we can do a full hour is because many people are loyal and believe and remember the traditional pieces we perform,” he said.

According to McCollum, the choir knows that the community is behind them.

“The community will come and watch the performance. You can feel the appreciation by the community. I believe that each of our members work so hard because they want to give back to the community,” he said.

The Elkin Community Choir only offers two performances — 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Each performance is one hour.

The performance will be aired at 8 p.m. on WIFM radio 100.9 on Dec. 8.

“They’ll most likely repeat the hour on Christmas,” said McCollum.

According to the musical director, a dedicated committee runs the Elkin Community Choir program. A love offering is taken at the performances for a collection he says helps offset many of the costs associated with preparation and delivery of the production.

“People are very generous and we thank them,” he said.

Phyllis Qualheim of Elkin has been singing for the choir since its inception. She has never missed a year. Heading into its 53rd annual performance, the tenacious 86-year-old said during a Tribune Tribute interview that she looks forward to singing in the choir because it makes her young.

“She’s outlasted everyone,” said McCollum.

Laura Gaylord, the community manager for the town of Elkin, has been an active participant in the choir and used to sing often in a choir in high school. She rediscovered her appreciation for singing after moving to Elkin.

“When I moved to Elkin years ago, I remember walking into a practice session and it was an instant feeling. They do a great job at making anyone with an interest feel welcomed,” said Gaylord.

“It’s a pretty big deal. People keep coming back and participating,” said Gaylord.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.