The idea of Sisters’ Voices was born in the summer of 2000 when Leandra was teaching at the Governor’s School of NC in Winston-Salem. Governor’s School choruses had included both boys and girls up to that point, but that particular summer there were not enough boys to fill choruses at both campuses of the Governor’s School, so a treble chorus was selected for the campus at Winston-Salem.
Leandra was astonished by the all-women ensemble. Singers were supportive of each other, got to know each other well, were much less concerned with hair and makeup, and created a marvelous community together. They also worked very hard!
That summer Leandra decided to work toward beginning a girls chorus – she wanted to call it Young Women’s Voices.
In 2002 Leandra moved from Pennsylvania, where she had been teaching at Abington Friends School, to North Carolina to begin working at Binkley Church. In 2006, hoping to learn more about the connection between the mind and the body, Leandra ended her 10-year run at the Governor’s School and went to study Massage Therapy and Bodywork at the Body Therapy Institute in Silk Hope. Upon completing her diploma and licensing process, Leandra set out to do three things – adopt a child, open a Massage Therapy studio, and start her long-dreamed-of girls chorus. She knew that only two of these three things could happen, and the adoption would be first, so she started doing massage therapy and put in her bio at Binkley that she wanted to start a girls chorus in Chatham County.
That winter, Florence Peacock invited Leandra to conduct the community Messiah sing in Chapel Hill. The event was listed on Triangle Sings, which was run by Carol Robbins, a resident of Fearrington Village and a great supporter of choral music, and especially of children’s choral music in this area. Early in 2007, a choral student from Leandra’s days at Abington Friends School was looking for Leandra and, having stumbled on the Messiah Sing information on Triangle Sings, contacted Carol Robbins to get Leandra’s contact information. When Carol found her bio at Binkley and learned she wanted to start a girls chorus in Chatham County, Carol contacted Leandra and offered a grant through her Youth Pro Musica Fund of Triangle Community Foundation to begin the group.
That was the sign Leandra needed. She put Massage Therapy aside (though her teaching is highly influenced by that education) and set out to begin Sisters’ Voices. The first Sisters’ Voices ensemble, a group of 17 singers in 4th through 7th grades, formed in the fall of 2008 with the grant from Carol Robbins, the gift of space from Pittsboro Presbyterian Church, and volunteer time from Leandra.
In 2011 Herman Greene provided legal services to help incorporate Sisters’ Voices into a 501(c)(3) (nonprofit) organization. In 2012 Sisters’ Voices added a chorus in Pittsboro for 2nd and 3rd graders. In 2013 Sisters’ Voices added two ensembles in Chapel Hill, with an initial gift of space from Binkley Church. 2017 saw the addition of SV-Three, its first full season ending with a performance of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, with accompaniment by members of the Baroque Ensemble at UNC and generous artistic support from Penelope Jensen.
As we enter the 2019-2020 season, our twelfth, we are adding our first administrative staffing position, Managing Director, and setting out to figure out how to acquire our own space so that our programs can grow.
We are so grateful for the many, many community members and parents who have supported us along the way and who continue to help Sisters’ Voices thrive!
We have been backed by wonderful accompanists through the years. They are:
- Janice Pope (2008-2011)
- Adam Lefevre-Hughes (2011-2013)
- Mikhail Krishtal (2013-2015)
- Daniel Cherrix (2015-2018)
- Alexandra Hanes Buob (2018-present)