Music has always been an escape for me. Unlike some others in the Choral Society, I have no professional training or degrees in music; I have instead immersed myself in every opportunity I could that allowed me to sing and learn from those experiences. I started singing in church as young as kindergarten, and have been a part of a church choir ever since, except for a little while as I was raising my children. I still sing in church now in the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church choir. My most challenging and rewarding experience singing was in a madrigal group for three years while in high school. Singing acapella, with no conductor, with only eight voices, meant you had to first and foremost know your part because nobody else sang with you, but it also taught me to really listen to everyone else to achieve that perfect blend. It was a special experience from which I learned a great deal about singing.
I am a life-long educator, now happily retired from that work. I started teaching very young children, taught in the public schools, then taught at the college level as a teacher educator, and spent the last decade of my career as a Dean and Provost. A tireless advocate for children, though, I have found a happy semi-retirement with the Catawba County Partnership for Children where I coordinate the KidsREADy project, focusing on pathways to grade-level reading in collaboration with all three school systems in Catawba County. And those daughters I took time away from singing to raise? Well, they are successfully launched, and have made music a part of their adult lives. One plays in a community bell ensemble and sings and cants in her church, and her twin sister also plays in a community bell ensemble, sings in a community chorus, and plays the piano and flute whenever she can, sometimes even in recitals with her Eastman graduate husband. So music remains a huge part of our lives, and the Hickory Choral Society fills a special place in my soul for sure! -Gail Summer