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Sandy Holland leaves Charlotte Children’s Choir

By Fred Clasen-Kelly
frkelly@charlotteobserver.com
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KELLY FRANKLIN -
Choir director Sandy Holland fields questions from individual students after a practice session ends.

Well-known youth music director Sandy Holland has resigned from the Charlotte Children’s Choir and started plans to form another group.

Holland announced on Facebook that she is leaving the choir program after 23 years.

Charlotte Children’s Choir is one of the most high-profile youth organizations in the city. The group has toured nationally and abroad, performing in famous venues such as Carnegie Hall and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome as well as the White House.

Ensembles led by Holland regularly performed beside professionals such as the Charlotte Symphony and Opera Carolina.

Holland’s departure from the Children’s Choir did not appear amicable.

In a Facebook posting, she wrote that she is leaving six weeks before her planned exit date. Explaining her resignation in another posting, she wrote: “If the horse you (rode) in is dead, it’s probably a good idea to dismount.”

Holland could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Leaders of the Children’s Choir met with concerned parents and children last week about Holland’s resignation, said Jill Beitel, a member of the board of directors.

Beitel recalled words from a minister to describe the disappointment voiced by parents and choir members. “Nobody likes change except a wet baby,” she said.

“It’s distressing. We all respect Sandy. She did an amazing job.”

Asked why Holland was leaving before her planned exit date, Beitel said “it gets a little messy” before declining further comment.

Children’s Choir Executive Director Nancina Pope referred questions to board Chairwoman Nikki Emanuel Jarrell, who did not return calls seeking comment.

Driven by the popularity of television shows such as “Glee” and and “The Sing-Off,” interest in youth choral singing has spiked in recent years. The Charlotte Children’s Choir is one of several well-known local youth choral programs, including The Choir School at St. Peter’s, based at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and the Charlotte Home Educators Association.

In Facebook postings, Holland said she is working as founding artistic director of Young Voices of the Carolinas.

“The possibilities that lie ahead for me as I begin a new venture, are exciting and a little frightening,” she wrote. “I have built the courage needed to begin a new program. An organization where I plan to realize the wishes, hopes and dreams I have not been able to accomplish in the past, as well as to empower young singers to give their very best.”

Clasen-Kelly: 704-358-5027
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