New regional choral group to unite female teens in song

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 7, 2019

 The music educators and professionals assembling the new choral group, One Voice, are, from left, Melody VanArragon, Carolyn Gross and Tammy Palazzolo. The women are pictured here at Brownell Middle School in Grosse Pointe Farms, where Gross is a choir leader and teacher.

The music educators and professionals assembling the new choral group, One Voice, are, from left, Melody VanArragon, Carolyn Gross and Tammy Palazzolo. The women are pictured here at Brownell Middle School in Grosse Pointe Farms, where Gross is a choir leader and teacher.

Photo by Deb Jacques

GROSSE POINTES — As a teacher and a mother of three, Carolyn Gross, of Grosse Pointe Park, knows how busy most teenagers are.

So with One Voice, the new, nonprofit choral group she’s launching for girls ages 13-18, Gross and fellow co-founders Tammy Palazzolo and Melody VanArragon have tried to establish a manageable series of rehearsals and performances to enable young women who love singing to be able to fit it into their calendars.

The trio will hold auditions this month for prospective One Voice participants, and they hope to attract teens from across the region who enjoy challenging music, said Gross, the artistic director of One Voice.

“There’s a lot of kids who love to sing but can’t fit it into their schedule at school,” she said. “I’m hoping this will be something kids who are already busy will be able to make and not sacrifice their other (activities).”

Auditions will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. May 14 and 21 at Grosse Pointe Woods Presbyterian Church, 19950 Mack Ave. Prospective choir members can sign up online for an audition time; organizers say the auditions should take about 10 minutes.

If students need to arrange a different audition time than the ones available, they should contact One Voice officials to arrange that. Students should either be ready to sing a song they’ve prepared — for which they need to bring a copy of the music — or be ready to perform the folk song “Shenandoah.”

Rehearsals will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays from September through June at Grosse Pointe Woods Presbyterian Church, and concerts will be on Sundays, with the first performance slated to take place Nov. 10.

Gross has been teaching vocal music in the Grosse Pointe Public School System for more than 20 years, the last 22 of them at Brownell Middle School, where she teaches drama classes as well. She’s also the music department chair, director of the all-school musical and coordinator of an annual, districtwide summer choir workshop.

VanArragon, a pianist who lives in Grosse Pointe Park, is the accompanist for One Voice. For more than 20 years, she’s been the choral accompanist for the Cantabile Choirs of Kingston, Ontario; the Detroit Children’s Choir; and the Grosse Pointe Public School System. She does freelance work and accompaniment as well.

Assistant Director Palazzolo, who lives in Roseville, teaches middle school choir at Wyandot Middle School in the Chippewa Valley School District, directs three grade-level choirs and serves as music director of the all-school musical. She conducts summer music workshops as well.

According to their literature, One Voice “will perform a rich array of choral music while building community, nurturing confidence and instilling a lifelong love of music through adventurous programming. We will empower our young singers to create the kind of musical excellence that promotes opportunities for personal growth.”

Gross said they hope to have about 25-30 students in the first choir. She said their focus will be on performing “art music, contemporary choral music.”

“There’s a whole group of people who love music,” Gross said. “We’re going to unite them.”

One Voice will give students a chance to work with professional musicians and make new friends while they hone their skills.

“Not only is this about singing, but it’s about nurturing the joy of music in these young girls,” said Barb Widener, president of the One Voice board of directors. “It’s about nurturing their whole being. It’s not just a choir.”

Widener said they hope One Voice draws girls from all over the area, including neighboring communities like St. Clair Shores, Detroit, Warren and Clinton Township.

“This is a regional thing,” she said. “We’re looking for a beautiful mix of young women.”

For more information or to schedule an audition, visit www.choironevoice.org or email choironevoice@gmail.com.