Voices of Kentuckiana

VOICE of the Week – Gregory L. Sopko

greg-sopkoGet to know another long-term VOICES member, Gregory L. Sopko, this week! Gregory has been singing with VOICES since January of 1996, and we’re so grateful to have him as part of our community!
Tell us your name. Gregory L Sopko
What is your occupation or how do you occupy your days, usually?  I’m a clerk at Kroger, in a different department each day. I’m all over the store!
In one sentence, let us know what VOICES means to you.  VOICES, and this wonderful community of singers, has helped me over the years to become more  comfortable with who I am.
What prompted you to become a member of VOICES?  I was just really coming out as being gay in 1996, and wanted to becoming part of a community. When I moved to Louisville a friend told me to look for an activity or organization in the gay community that I would enjoy. The rest is history!
What has been your favorite VOICES concert or event?  My first GALA in San Jose, CA.
What do you hope to see for VOICES in the future?   I hope we continue to grow, become even more diverse, and touch many more peoples’ lives.
What would you tell young people who are looking for ways to get involved in their community?   Just do it. It may take you a while to find the right organization or group, but even if your first experiences don’t work out, you will be  glad you tried and wonder how your life could have been complete without it!

The Man Behind the Music

1797404_10152324785926382_229535003113760496_nFor the last 20 years, VOICES of Kentuckiana has been proud to be an inclusive community chorus that accepts all comers and finds a place in the family for every individual. Now, VOICES is accepting a new family member —Artistic Director Jeff Buhrman! We are looking forward to his positive energy and ongoing leadership as we begin our next 20 years as a chorus and a community.

Recently, we sat down with Jeff to get to know him a little better and see if we could get any sneak previews at what the future may hold. We began with Jeff’s motivations for leaving the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C. “My husband, Roger, and I wanted to make a move to smaller, peaceful, and less political city, where we would still find a deeply rooted gay community and a rich arts community,” said Jeff. “Louisville offers all of that, as well as a great opportunity to work with VOICES. We’re looking forward to making friends in a new community.”

As Jeff and Roger settle in to the slower pace of Louisville, Jeff is making big plans for VOICES! “When I left a career in education to become Artistic Director of Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C., I knew I wanted to work on building a bridge between the chorus and high school students. I’m so proud of founding a youth outreach program in 2001 that is still thriving today, and I’m looking forward to building a similar program with VOICES,” Jeff said. “Our youth will be inspired and empowered by the pride we can show them.”

But for the immediate future, his focus is trained on the winter program, HOLIDAY MAGIC. “I’m looking forward to the fun visual surprises for our audience, as well as the opportunity to sing to our mission,” said Jeff. “There’s an amazing diversity of musical styles from many different genres. And humor––lots of humor! Every song takes the concert in a different direction. Best of all, we get to tell and sing our stories. In this show it’s all about our magical holiday memories––from riding down a hill on a sleigh after a beautiful snowstorm to sharing a first Christmas with the person you’ve fallen in love with.”

“When I program a concert,” Jeff said, “I make a deal with myself that I have to like every song. I have several favorites this time around. We’ve got a really fun Bollywood number in the works, and a rendition of ‘Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas’ that will offer visual surprises for our audience. For the sheer beauty of sound, combined with singing to our mission, the combination of ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming’ and Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ will break my heart as I conduct and listen.”Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.36.10 AM

So, what does Jeff look for in a performance? “I always feel cheated at a performance when I’m not feeling something. I’m a great fan of musicals––incredible music, a haunting story, and some humor. I remember the first time I saw ‘Sweeney Todd’ on Broadway, I left the theater with a friend and neither of us could speak a word for half an hour. That’s how affected we were by the show. It left us speechless at the time.”

We can’t wait to see how Jeff’s passion for music, storytelling, and community building will shape our future! Jeff’s advice for your expectations of the future, “Don’t ever expect VOICES to be boring!” Tickets to Jeff’s first concert with VOICES, Holiday Magic, are available here!

 

VOICE of the Week – Tami McGowen

tami-mcgowanThis week we’re so pleased to be able to feature Tami McGowan as our VOICE of the Week! Tami is a founding member of VOICES who, after a 10 year hiatus from the chorus, rejoined us last spring for our 20th Anniversary concert, VOICES Goes Platinum! She and her partner Peggy, who you got to know as last week’s VOICE of the Week, have returned to sing with us for our Holiday Magic and we couldn’t be more thrilled! We had a chance to chat with Tami this week to chat about some of her favorite memories of VOK and what she’s looking forward to most now that she’s back!

What’s your occupation these days?
I’m a retired police officer, but currently I occupy my time as a Heart Monitor Technician at Jewish Hospital 3 days a week.

In one sentence, let us know what VOICES means to you.
VOICES of Kentuckiana has always been an important part of my life, as well as Peggy’s (my better half). We were both very active singing with the chorus and Inner Voices.

What prometed you to return to VOICES this year?
There were several reasons I returned this semester. Mainly, it was the nudging of a few other VOK members, the anticipation of growth under Jeff’s leadership, and once again being able to sing next to Peggy and a cherished group of friends that we have missed.

Tell us about a favorite moment from a VOICES concert or event.
A couple of memorable moments from VOICES were the first two Gala events we attended in 1996 and 2000. We all felt so much excitement as we took the stage and then shared such joy as we left.

What’s the best song you’ve performed with VOICES and why?
I remember several favorite songs, but “My Ship,” was one of my favorites while singing with Inner Voices.

Tell us something nice about another member of VOICES you admire.
I truly admire one of our Silent Voices, Terry Graney. She works with students who deal with difficult circumstances everyday. She is something the only one that truly listens to their needs and genuinely cares about them. She does all of that and then has spent the last 10 or more years of her free time making sure that VOICES doesn’t go without food or water. That’s dedication! Thanks Terry!

We can’t wait to share holiday memories with Tami this semester as we prepare to present our Winter Program, Holiday Magic, on December 6 & 7! Tickets available now!

 

VOICE of the Week – Peggy Wills

peggy-willsThis semester, VOICES is so proud to welcome back several previous members of the VOICES of Kentuckiana family, including Peggy Wills! Peggy was a founding member of VOICES and sang in every concert for the first 10 years, and we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome her and her lovely partner Tami back for the winter program, Holiday Magic! We caught up with Peggy this week and can’t wait to share highlights from our conversation with you!

What is your occupation or how do you occupy your days, usually?

I taught school for 17 years and now I am a sales consultant for TK Constructors.  I help folks build homes!

In one sentence, let us know what VOICES means to you.

Voices has always meant intentional family with a common goal to provide great music and create an atmosphere for all people to either participate or experience our music in a safe and welcoming place.

What prompted you to return to VOICES this year?

Both my spouse (Tami McGowen) and I thought long and hard about returning this semester.  We were invited to sing in the 20th anniversary concert and had a great time so we decided to give it a whirl this go around.

Tell us about a favorite moment from a VOICES concert or event?

There are a couple, but the one that jumps out at me was our set that we performed in San Jose.  It was designed so that there were no breaks between any of our numbers.  Kim was 8 months pregnant and was so animated I thought she could go into labor right there!  We brought the house down and since I was the first one off stage, I got to see everyone’s face as they came into the reception area….everyone was beaming with pride and many had tears of joy as well.  I get the shivers just writing this now!

What’s the best song you’ve performed with VOICES and why?

“Never Ever”  When we recorded our CD, Tami and I sponsored this song so it always has been special.  We dedicated it to my parents who are deceased and her Grandmother who meant the world to her and is also deceased.  Never take any moment for granted!
What do you hope to see for VOICES in the future?

Growth in new members with an emphasis on getting some of the younger generation involved.

What would you tell young people who are looking for ways to get involved in their community?

Join something in order to stay connected.  Join something in order to make a difference not only for yourself, but for others.

Tell us something nice about another member of VOICES you admire.  

I think Bobbie Gardner is one of the nicest people around.  She just got married so I wish her all the best!

 

We can’t wait to see Peggy, Tami, and all of our returning members in concert this December for Holiday Magic, a winter program celebrating the holiday moments that make the season memorable. Tickets available now! 

VOICE of the Week – Angie Hopperton

angie-hoppertonEveryone please join us in welcoming our new accompanist and VOICE of the Week, Angie Hopperton! Angie accompanied VOICES about 12 years ago, and we’re proud to say that she’s back for another round of fun and music with us this semester! We spent a little time this week and got reacquainted with Angie, a professional music instructor who also writes, arranges, and of course plays music!

Q: In one sentence, let us know what VOICES means to you. 

A: VOICES is a wonderful group of singers and some of the most friendly, welcoming people I’ve ever met.

Q: What would you tell young people who are looking for ways to get involved in their community?

A: Find a community service that’s close to your heart, something that you’re passionate about, then ask family, friends, and look on the Internet for local opportunities to help people.

Q: Who would play you in the Broadway production of your life, and why? 

A: The dream is Bernadette Peters because I love her. The reality is Kirsten Vangness from “Criminal Minds,” because she plays quirky so perfectly.

Q: What’s the best piece of singing advice you’ve ever received?

A: Breathe in through your nose instead of your mouth.


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