Women raise their voice in song

Patuxent ladies’ singing group seeks members

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

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Cynthia Gonzalez, left, and Lisa Ghee, both of St. Leonard, are members of a cappella singing group Patuxent Voices. The group currently has seven members and is holding auditions Aug. 21 at Musically Yours in California, Md., to find more. The three-year-old group performs at Middleham and St. Peter’s Parish in Lusby and Trinity Church in St. Mary’s City.

To get involved

Patuxent Voices will hold their next audition on Aug. 21 at Musically Yours in California. Another audition will be held in January. For more information, call Cynthia Gonzalez at 410-586-1071 or go to www.patuxentvoices.org.

Spirituals, sacred, secular, pop music and madrigals aren’t often genres of music that are sung by one group, but the Calvert County based women’s group Patuxent Voices is aiming to change that stereotype.

‘‘We didn’t want to limit ourselves,” said founder and trustee of Patuxent Voices Cynthia Gonzalez. ‘‘We perform music in a wide variety of styles, a cappella.”

Members of the group are from both Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, with a majority of its current seven members from St. Mary’s. Gonzalez is from St. Leonard though, and with the help of neighbor Lisa Ghee, also from St. Leonard, she created Patuxent Voices.

‘‘Cynthia’s been the main force,” Ghee said.

Gonzalez and Ghee sang in a woman’s group together before, but when it dissolved after its director left, the two women didn’t want to stop singing.

‘‘We decided to form our own group,” Gonzalez said.

Patuxent Voices was official as of May 2004 and held its first concert in December of the same year.

‘‘I just like making good music. I like being involved with good music,” Ghee said. ‘‘It’s something I do for me.”

The group performs twice a year in both Calvert and St. Mary’s county, at Middleham and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Trinity Church, respectively. Concerts are free, though Gonzalez said they do ask for donations in any amount.

‘‘We’re a very small group,” Gonzalez said, adding that ideally the group should have 12 members. ‘‘Twelve is ideal, twelve is good.”

One major reason the group would like to have more members is because of the three and four part pieces it performs, which Gonzalez and Ghee said can be hard to pull off with an uneven, small number of singers.

Thankfully each member of the group has a wide vocal range.

‘‘Most of us are flexible singers and can sing anywhere,” Ghee said. ‘‘That’s something we’ve been working on recently, is vocal flexibility.”

And though the group sings a cappella, they emphasize that it is not a barbershop-style singing group.

Ghee said several members of the group have a background in teaching and performing music, which has ‘‘been a big help” and helped the other members learn new things about music.

Director Linda Moritz, who has an educational background in music, joined Patuxent Voices about a year and a half ago.

‘‘I’ve always loved to sing and I really needed an outlet to do that,” she said. ‘‘Any performance group helps you polish your own skills.”

Becoming a member of Patuxent Voices requires more than just a phone call or visit, though.

Those who wish to join the group must be a woman who is at least 16 years old and have some ability to sight-read music. During an audition, which Gonzalez said normally takes about 15 minutes, singers will be asked to do some vocalizing so observers can find the tamper of the person’s voice, sight-read an unfamiliar piece of music and are then given a familiar song to perform so observers can gauge phrasing, diction, breathing and dynamics. Unlike other audition procedures, which sometimes require hopefuls to be prepare a piece in advance, there are no such requirements for Patuxent Voices.

That audition process, Gonzalez said, helps the group find people who will be able to help the group improve. According to Ghee, it also helps show if a singer can control their vibrato and be in harmony with the other group members.

‘‘In a small group it’s important to be able to blend,” Gonzalez said.

‘‘We’re looking for people who can read music and hold their own on their parts,” Moritz said. ‘‘We need a certain voice to blend with those who are already in the choir. ... If they have a good enough voice and are willing to work they could possible make it.”

Patuxent Voices has recorded two albums in studio to date, though Gonzalez said that isn’t the purpose of the group.

‘‘I don’t feel the need to go on a national tour or make a Grammy-selling album,” Gonzalez said. ‘‘I’d just like the group to make really good music and attract an audience.”

‘‘For me, I think as a director my goal would be to take them to their peak, to take them far, to really polish our sound and get us to a point where we can move beyond the music,” Moritz said, adding that she would love for Patuxent Voices to be able to work on memorization skills and become more versatile.

Whatever its purpose or goals may be, members of Patuxent Voices said performing with the group is enjoyable and worth the hard work put in at weekly rehearsals.

‘‘We’re always willing to sing for an event,” Moritz said. ‘‘We are out and about.”

‘‘Making music, I think, it’s very rewarding,” Gonzalez said.

E-mail Meagan Boswell at mboswell@somdnews.com.