Beaufort County Choral Society preps for spring concert

Published 7:23 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

Each Thursday, 20 singers gather in a cozy room in annex of the First Presbyterian Church in Washington. With a song in their hearts, the members of the Beaufort County Choral Society share a common passion for making beautiful music.

BCCS is currently preparing for its annual spring concert, with three performance dates scheduled at venues in Washington and Bath.

“We’re going to be singing some jazz pieces, a couple of spirituals and a few more classical pieces,“ said Betty Bowers, a five-year member of the society. “The biggest thing we’re going to do is a Disney theme with music from all the Disney shows you’ve ever heard of.”

With approximately 30 members, BCCS brings together a nice blend of soprano, alto, tenor and bass singers, all from a variety of musical backgrounds. Although they meet in a church, Bowers made clear that the group is decidedly non-denominational.

“We are not affiliated with anything but music,” Bowers said.

LAYING DOWN A TRACK: Alto singer Betty Bowers and pianist Heidi Souza record a practice track of Amazing Grace under the direction of conductor Stephen Brand. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

According to Bowers, the move to the Presbyterian Church from the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center has brought a variety of benefits. In addition to better acoustics and a better piano, the group also has room to store its music, which was previously stored in the attic of the Turnage Theatre.

“We really are appreciative of the Presbyterian Church’s generosity,” Bowers said. “It has made life a bit easier for us, and it was done out of the kindness of their hearts.”


At the head of the group, conductor Stephen Brand has led BCCS for the past two years, pushing the group’s musical styling in a new direction.

“I want us to be something everyone can enjoy,” Brand said. “So when I was picking the repertoire for this concert, we had to look through our library. Instead of having just one theme, I decided we would do what we have. We have a lot of spirituals, a lot of jazz, a lot of show tunes and a lot of classical style.”

BRAND: Stephen Brand has been conducting the Beaufort County Choral Society for the past two years.

Among this year’s highlights are a new arrangement of “Amazing Grace” by the group’s resident composer Lem Stanley, as well as a Disney medley that Brand hopes will be enjoyed by all ages.

“To end the entire set, we’re going to do a 20-minute montage of all the Disney, like the old classics,” Brand said. “Hopefully for the generations we usually draw in here, we can have little kids and elders singing along, because it’s the music they grew up with.”

Brand joined the choral society after earning his undergraduate degree in music education at Appalachian State and his graduate degree in vocal performance at East Carolina University.

With the opening of the spring performance little more than a month away, Bowers says that there could still be time for singers who can read music to become involved. It’s only the time constraint that makes it the case — being able to read music is not a requirement to join BCCS.

Anyone interested in singing with the group is welcome to join in the music-making on Thursday evenings, regardless of whether they would be prepared for performance. Dues for the society are $45 per semester, an amount that may be subsidized based on need.

The first performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 29, and will take place at First Presbyterian Church. The second will take place at 7 p.m. on May 4 at Beaufort County Community College, and the final performance of the series will take place at 3 p.m. on May 6 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bath.