Tour of Kitchens: Girlchoir's annual event features kitchens of distinctive style

April 6, 2011 9:52:00 AM



Three kitchens that hit the right notes will be open Saturday in support of the Columbus Girlchoir and its 57 members. 


Proceeds from the third annual Tour of Kitchens and its silent auction, both 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will especially help the choir''s next two projects: its Spring Concert on May 12 and its June performance at the New Orleans Crescent City Choral Festival. The May concert will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Fletcher-Jones Building of First United Methodist Church at 602 Main St. in Columbus.  


Last year''s tour featured Southside homes. This year''s activities will be at three North Columbus kitchens, those of Karen Jamison, 59 Eagle Cove; Nell and Si Thomas, 1704 Bramblewood; and Betty and Mike Waters, 597 Ridge Road. 


Ticket-buyers can start at any of the three houses. Parking is available at the Thomas and Jamison homes, and shuttle buses will cross Ridge Road to link the Jamison and Waters homes. (Eagle Cove is the parking area for both.) 


Tour tickets are $20 and include all three homes.Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center at 300 Main St., Party and Paper, 218 Fifth St. S., or Beans & Cream, 60 Brickerton St. 




A joyful noise 


Founded in 2004, the Girlchoir has senior and junior divisions for area girls 9 to 18 years old. The weekly practices in technique, choral style, vocal health and music fundamentals prepare the choir for its Christmas and spring concerts. 


Seven girls in February sang in the Mississippi Girlchoir''s Honor Choir, and 24 will be making the New Orleans trip. This weekend''s tours help fund both projects. 


"Ten other choirs will be at the Crescent Cove Choral Festival," said Director Cherry Dunn. "Our auditions will put us in good company with choirs from California, Arizona, Maryland and other states. 


"Our Senior Choir sang there in 2009, and then last summer, 20 members of the choir were artists-in-residence at the Choral Music Experience at Elon College in North Carolina. All the girls greatly appreciate the work that goes into the kitchen tour," Dunn said. The choir''s fundraising goal for 2010-11 is $22,000 -- up from $12,000 two years ago. 


Said board chairman Jim Mauldin, "Besides helping the festival trips, our ticket sales help us meet recurring expenses of scholarships, sheet music, uniforms and printing. A grant from the Columbus Arts Council is a big help, too." The choir each year offers about $1,500 in scholarship, a figure the board wants to increase. 




Something extra 


The homeowners won''t be the only volunteers Saturday, said Jennifer Locke, tour chairman. 


For example, visitors to the Jamison kitchen will enjoy flowers from Ivy Cottage, have tastings from Table of Plenty and see design samples from The Granite Guys. The presentation at the Thomas home includes arrangements by international designer Ralph Null, pick-ups from The Grill -- and the samples from The Granite Guys. And the Waters'' kitchen will feature flowers by Mississippi State florist Lynette McDougald and snacks from Huck''s. 


"The Columbus Girlchoir has a tremendous influence on these girls'' lives," Locke said. "If ''we are what we eat,'' we are also what we listen to. This is an opportunity to encounter the great classical tradition and the best of modern works -- and to do so under the eye of Cherry Dunn, who really sustained the Girlchoir on her own for years. She''s had a board to help her only for the last three years." 


Choir members have added ticket sales to their repertoire in recent weeks, Locke said. "The girls sell most of the tickets -- they know the value of their experience. And this year''s homes couldn''t be better. 


"The choir and the board greatly appreciate these the help of the homeowners at a really busy time of year. Margaret Mauldin and Paul Howard are joining me as hostesses, and they have done a lot behind the scenes." 




Silent auction 


Saturday''s tour includes a silent auction based at the Thomas home until 1 p.m. 


The Girlchoir will benefit form the sale of paintings of Rita DeWeese, Gayle Glenn, Karen Jamison, Cathy Pilkinton, Joy Phillips, Judy Reeves, Sherry Roan and Dr. Jerry Stennett. Boardmember Howard said bidding will be in person, and by telephone if a person at another house wants to call back and check the bidding. 


"The Tour of Kitchens is an enjoyable way to move toward a serious goal," Mauldin said. "And that is: keeping the Columbus Girlchoir open to all by auditions. Over the years, we have seen these singers grow in poise and confidence as they give us the great gift of their talent and the training they get from Cherry Dunn."