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Two Very Different Women's Choirs Find Musical Exchange Rewarding

By Tom Flanigan


Tallahassee, FL – There are two women's choirs in Tallahassee that are very different when it comes to their repertoire and approach to music. But Tom Flanigan reports the two groups regularly engage in a musical exchange that's deeply rewarding for both.

One of the musical groups is Voces Angelorum, which is Latin for "Voices of Angels." Now celebrating its tenth year, Voces Angelorum is a women's chamber chorus based in Tallahassee. It's made up of choir members from many churches in North Florida and South Georgia.

The ensemble has performed at many prestigious venues. But a couple of times a year, Voces Angelorum travels out Mahan Drive just east of the I-10 interchange to the Lighthouse Children's Home. There they entertain and are entertained by the vocal group called the Lighthouse Girls.

Lighthouse Executive Director Ken Rhoads admits the Lighthouse Girls' powerhouse singing style is a real contrast to the classical polish and refinement of Voces Angelorum.

"We tell them all the time, remember, you know you're singing the right volume if you can hear yourself and the two beside you."

But Voces Angelorum director and founder Charlie Witmer finds a lot to like.
"They're fabulous! They're really tight, they're expressive, they love what they're doing and the joy just comes right out of their voices."

A musical tightness, Ken Rhoads says, that comes from day after day of doing almost everything as a tight-knit group.

"Everything is done together. They even have very limited amount of time that they're able to go home. It's not like the program where they go home every weekend. The fact that they're here so much means we do everything together, and it's not an option. We require that type of participation."

Rhoads says there's still room for creativity, even with that kind of controlled regimentation.

"Now we do a lot of singing with soundtracks as well. But a lot of the acapella things that we've done through the years, the more they know them, the more they're able to start variating speeds. Even within them, they don't sing it straight all the way through. So they've been very good at picking that up, and we're very proud of them."

The Lighthouse Girls have recorded nine albums and tour often in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The only music they sing, or are even allowed to hear, is traditional Christian Gospel, except for the regular musical exchange concerts with Voces Angelorum. That group's Charlie Witmer says it's a great experience for both ensembles.

"Stylistically we're very far apart, but singing from the heart is what we have in common, and I think that's why we really love to be here. My women just hate when they have a conflict with us coming here, they just hate it, because they love being here to sing for the girls and to hear them sing and support them."