Eleanor Culling was the founder and first director of the Leavenworth Village Voices. After twenty years of teaching choral music in Michigan, she moved to Leavenworth in February of 1982. She opened a retail business in town and then became the choir director of the Leavenworth Community United Methodist Church. She and Diane Norman decided there was a need for a community chorus in Leavenworth. Members of several local church choirs in the area formed the core of the chorus. Other members were recruited from the community, wherever willing singers could be found.
Maintaining and expanding the membership required constant attention, including making phone calls, sending out letters, newsletters (no e-mail at that time!), talking with people about the choir, etc. Finding enough men for the group has always been the largest challenge. Eleanor told a story about hearing a marvelous bass voice singing in the hallway outside her shop. She dashed out and "snagged him" for the choir. "He had no chance!" she recounted. And so Jack Wedeberg became one of the early male members.
At the first Christmas Concert, held in December 1982, there were 46 members on the stage at the Camp Field Chapel, now a part of Sleeping Lady resort. The Marlin Handbell Ringers—also directed by Eleanor for ten years—collaborated with the Village Voices in performing several pieces.
The first accompanist was Georgette Fuller, who was a well known Leavenworth pianist, and former director of the Marlin Handbells. Leah Moats was the accompanist from 1983 to 1986 and for intermittent years until 1999. Larry Henderson joined as Director in 2000 and Jennifer Sidebottom has been our Accompanist since 2011, as well as singing in the choir as an Alto.
In the spring of 1986, the Leavenworth Village Voices sang for the first time at the International Choral Festival hosted in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, by the Naramata Community Choir. Each year until 2013, the Village Voices participated in the International Choral Festival, traveling to Canada and other parts of the US to participate, and has hosted four of the festivals—in 1987, 1993 , 1999, and 2005—in Leavenworth. The highlight of the International Choral Festival is the massed choir performance in which all of the choirs—totaling some 250 or more performers—singing four-part harmony together. In June of 1986 the Leavenworth Village Voices also performed during a two day exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.
The Leavenworth Village Voices continue to fulfill the mission of enriching our community and the visitor experience by promoting choral music and traditional Bavarian songs, contributing to Leavenworth's Bavarian theme and festive atmosphere, and providing an opportunity for locals to sing in a professionally-directed, mixed-voices choir. We offer an outlet for individuals with a passion for music and singing, and we promote the arts more generally in Leavenworth.
We thoroughly enjoy representing our Bavarian Village and performing our annual "Christmas in the Mountains" concerts each December, while clad in traditional Bavarian Trachten (attire). You will also see us perform at the Gazebo during the final Christmas Lighting Festival and caroling in small groups downtown during Christmas Lighting Festival weekends. In addition, we perform at local charity fundraisers, during festivals, and for tour groups and care-giving facilities. We also present an annual scholarship to a graduating senior who will continue his/her study of music in college.
We are honored and thrilled to be keeping Eleanor’s dream alive as we celebrate our 35th anniversary in 2017. Our members love to share the joy and peace of Christmas music while contributing to Leavenworth's Bavarian theme and festive atmosphere.