With future in question, local chorus clings to 'high hopes'

Loss of pianist may spell end for singing group
Aug. 08, 2013 @ 05:03 AM

The High Hopes Chorus  — a local choir that performs at retirement communities across Lee County — may be forced to disband if members are unable to find a new piano player before their fall performances.

According to the group's president, Mary Ann Ludwick, the group may have to halt its semi-annual performances at the half a dozen retirement communities in Sanford if a new pianist can't be found to accompany the group.

"We are hoping to start [rehearsals] at the end of August, but we have to have a pianist first," Ludwick said. "Our last one unfortunately moved, and we are high and dry, so to speak."

The 20 or more singers need a pianist, she said, because of the type of music — including gospel, oldies, hymns and show tunes — in their repertoire.

The chorus has been performing at Lee County nursing homes for more than 25 years and would be greatly missed if they stopped touring, according to several employees at area nursing homes.

"All of our residents are so excited when they come," said Barbara Clayton, director of the Bayberry Retirement Inn. "It's probably one of the most highly attended events we have. They are really excited about them and love to hear them perform."

Clayton added that she has appreciated the group's service to the retirement community throughout the years. 

Maxine Hilliard, activities director of Liberty Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, said the High Hopes Chorus always offered a variety of songs while still catering to an older audience.

"They really enjoy them," she said. "They've always been a great group and faithful to come. We would certainly miss that."

The group practices every Wednesday in the weeks leading up to their performances, Ludwick said, and the performances are also scheduled on Wednesday afternoons.

"We really want to make it as convenient as possible," she said. "It's only a couple of hours on Wednesdays. We are just devoted to singing at our nursing homes."

People interested in joining the choir or playing the piano for the group can contact Ludwick at (919) 776-4502.