South Hills Chorale auditions for broad-based repertoire

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In 1960, Carol Steffen -- then Carol Whaley -- was a student at Upper St. Clair High School when she and her parents, Richard and Betty Whaley, joined the newly formed South Hills Chorale.

"I'd always loved singing, and I wanted to be part of something my parents were doing," the Baldwin Township woman, 68, recalled.

Over the years, membership in the chorale group has provided a musical outlet for the stay-at-home mom and helped with her emotional survival during troubled times.

Today, the soprano is one of 75 volunteer singers in the group. But more singers are needed to continue the beautiful music the chorale has delivered for the past 53 years.

At 7 p.m. Monday, auditions will be held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1066 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. Auditions will also be held as part of the regular rehearsals at the church at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26, Sept. 9 and Sept. 16.

All auditions are private, with only the music director, assistant music director, and an accompanist present. Registration is required.

The chorale's broad-based repertoire includes American classics, Broadway, pops, spirituals, favorites, classical, sacred, and holiday works.

The Mt. Lebanon-based group performs two major concerts each year in December and May. They also perform community concerts year-round for meetings, conventions, senior citizen organizations, and social groups.

On Memorial Day, the group sang patriotic songs at the opening of the Mt. Lebanon Veterans Memorial. In November, the chorale gave a concert at The Devonshire of Mt. Lebanon senior living facility.

"The activities director told us we were the first group in three years to get a standing ovation,'' chorale business manager Rick Smith, said.

The chorale's music director is Philip R. Aley, of Green Tree, who holds music degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Duquesne University.

The group was previously directed by Henry D. Monsch Jr., who retired in 2012 after nearly 50 years.

"He was the glue,'' member Dennis Sweeney, of Upper St. Clair, recalled.

The baritone, 72, is a retired professor of psychology at California University of Pennsylvania.

"Music is part of my soul and singing with a group like this is very fulfilling,'' Mr. Sweeney said.

Mr. Smith, a retired financial planner from South Fayette, met his wife, Debbie, after both joined the chorale 13 years ago.

"It's a great bonus that we both share the same love of singing,'' he said.

Elaine Moore, 66, of Jefferson Hills, a retired administrator for the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, is a seven-year chorale member.

"It's a wonderful and welcoming group,'' she said. "We like to create a good product and see people pleased with our performance.''

To schedule an audition, call Mrs. Moore at 412-780-9336, or email


Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:


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